History and the State

Difficulty    

The geo-mutualist panarchist interpretation of history is important for its theory of progress. Rather than, as many anarchists, holding a defeatist and determinist attitude toward history, geo-mutualist panarchists embrace the changes in history, and seek to understand them, in order to influence history further.

Geo-mutualist panarchists understand prehistoric, historic, and contemporary hunter-gatherers, and simple horticultural people to largely constitute stateless peoples. Hunter-gatherers and early horticultural people were always on the move, and, as such, could not maintain large surpluses with which to govern a society. In order for authority to establish itself internal to a society, there must be some form of accumulated wealth. At some point, economic rents had started to affect the balance of societies, and some horticulturalists had gained comparative advantages in their land holdings. These societies, which wielded a surplus over the others, and thereby maintained higher-grade technologies, maintained the power to use their surpluses to dominate other societies. However, it is quite possible that the first cities in the Fertile Crescent, and those of the Indus Valley, were themselves peaceful trading centers, which, while having a surplus due to economic rent, did not wield their surpluses against others until sometime after being taken over by marauders, such as held in some views of the Kurgan hypothesis. According to such a view, marauders, who had learned to utilize horses in the Pontic Steppe, had been forced from their homelands, due to climatic conditions, and had begun to violently raid other societies, including those that would develop into the first well-recognized states in Mesopotamia. It is likely that these raiders happened upon a lucrative and peaceful people, and established themselves their lords, from then on commanding their surpluses. This would force them into regional relationships, no longer built around kinship. However, it must be noted, that one need not use aggressive force to be considered a state, but simply maintain economic rent through defensive action. This would make any defensive action on behalf of later horticulturalists, against those who would claim some of their surplus, an act of statism.[1]

What we see, in the development of history, is peaceful people who lived as hunters and gatherers, simple herders or horticulturalists, who then face the rise of agriculture, which was really a strong mixing of pastoralism and horticulture during the Bronze Age. With agriculture arose the state, wherein authority had become established, class stratification became standardized, and people were forced into relations with one another based on residency, rather than kinship. The statism of the agricultural era peaked during the age of totalitarian empires and kingships, but actually started slowly to decline after the fall of the Roman Empire. The power of the state would continue to decline well after the breaking up of the Empire, and especially with the rise of mercantilism. The shift from feudalist monarchies toward capitalist republics must be understood as positive in nature. While this is not the same as suggesting support for the remnants of the state, it is suggesting support for the elements of anti-statism that accompanied the transition from feudal monarchies to capitalist republics.

By maintaining the understanding of history outlined above—that the shift from hunting and gathering toward agriculture represented a sort of “fall” for human societies, but that the shifting from agriculture to industrialism represented the beginning of the “rise”— geo-mutualist panarchists can look back into more immediate history for positive influence, without accepting it outright. In other words, geo-mutualist panarchists, by having an understanding of history as undergoing ups and downs, and seeing the present as part of an upward process, can embrace history, rather than rejecting it. While The Declaration of Independence may not be a perfectly anarchist document, geo-mutualist panarchists can celebrate it, not as something to apply to the future, but as something to be thankful for from the past.

This becomes particularly useful when the geo-mutualist panarchist addresses the origins of the current liberal nation-state under which we live. It’s well known, but usually rejected, knowledge that the United States was founded by protestants, and especially Freemasons. Freemasonry unofficially started as a stonemason’s guild, but, after the Crusades, wherein the masons found much affinity with such groups as the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller, became a secret society, likely due to attempts to abolish craft guilds, revoking their monopolies. Freemason secrecy was in part a response to such abolition, in an attempt to maintain or re-establish their monopolistic pacts. The Knights Templar had become a powerful banking institution, after its members learned mathematics and Jewish lending practice in the Middle East. The masons, soon incorporating non-masons into their ranks—probably due to the Catholic church’s disapproval of the power the Templar Order was gaining— adapted toward commerce. This trade society, but not alone, would become a mechanism of transition from feudal monarchies toward capitalist republics.

A piece of little-known history may make this clear. In the city of Boston, before the American Revolution, there was a public house called the Green Dragon Tavern. The Green Dragon Tavern had previously been the property of William Douglas, a physician and free thinker, who condemned paper money. Adam Smith had cited William Douglas favorably in his Wealth of Nations. After Douglas had died, his sister sold the Green Dragon Tavern to the St. Andrews Lodge of Freemasons. The Green Dragon would find itself the “Headquarters of the Revolution,” under the authority of Grand Master Mason, Joseph Warren. In the Green Dragon Tavern met such groups as The Committee of Correspondence, who would develop into a shadow government, slowly taking control of the colonies despite their official governments; the Boston Caucus, which seems to have been a means of directing public consensus; and The Sons of Liberty, a secret society who would later be responsible for The Boston Tea Party. It was from the Green Dragon Tavern that Paul Revere would go on his famous ride.

The American Revolution marks a transition toward progress, but it was not a victory for farmers or workers. It was a victory of the aristocracy, who had joined into secret societies, and created shadow governments. While likely internally-democratic, these shadow governments also created a false sense of public democracy, by way of organizations like The Boston Caucus. The Boston Caucus would hold meetings in order to gain public support, but actual decisions were made in a “smoke-filled room,” by a consortium of power-holders, before they were “made” by the public. The illusion of participation was important for Boston revolutionaries. However, real democracy would challenge the power of the aristocracy, who were the main proponents of revolution, and who were the ones to meet in secret societies, and to create shadow governments. Workers and farmers were encouraged to participate, but had no real decision-making power.

It’s no wonder, then, why some years after the revolution, a farmer by the name of Daniel Shays, who, after seeing abuses of power wielded against a widow, raised an army of farmers, in an event today known as Shays’ Rebellion. Shays’ Rebellion would strike fear into the aristocracy. At this time, before the Constitution, the country was governed under The Articles of Confederation, which, while directly-democratic, restricted participation only to wealthy land-owners. No one else was allowed to vote. However, after Shays’ Rebellion, it was decided that this structure was not sufficient for the purposes of defending against invasion, both foreign and especially domestic. This was the rise of the Federalists, who would illegally appoint a new Constitution, which would set back into place a shadow government, and extend a vote to all freeborn white men, in an effort of “political machining.”

This was not enough, of course. Soon, the rise of the first third-party in the United States, the Anti-Masonic Party, would come about. The Anti-Masonic Party would focus especially on political corruption, as perpetuated by the Freemasons. John Quincy Adams, whose father was President John Adams, was a member. They won some concessions, but ultimately disbanded. However, the fight against political corruption would continue, and would face a strong revival with Henry George, and the following progressivist movement. It’s a well-known, but often uncomfortable and rejected, fact, that secret societies, from the Mafia to the Ku Klux Klan to Skull and Bones, have long influenced the affairs of governance.

For the most part, it can be rather difficult to tell what is factual and what is not factual about our current regimes. However, looking back into history provides a lot less biased view, as the elite are much less threatened, though still so, by knowledge of their previous actions, than knowledge of their current plans. Looking back into history confirms shadow governments, political machining, smoke-filled rooms, and secret societies at our country’s origins, as well as after the new Constitution. However, bringing this up in public will often lead to accusations of “conspiracy theory,” a term which, while not being intrinsically polarized, has become a tool for painting a statement as nonsense, as if conspiracies have never occurred in real life. A quick search around, regarding material about conspiracies, will certainly turn up a bunch of nonsense. Much of this could be intentional, on the part of the elite; knowing people are onto them, they flood the market with nonsense to weaken their interest. Much of it is also just nonsense put out there for attention by the author, oftentimes as an inside joke. Nonetheless, there are facts in history which suggest that we are governed from the shadows, and these are best not ignored. These facts accepted, the best stance toward any information promoted by the state is one of agnosticism, until that point it has been confirmed by a better source. This is especially true when it comes to political elections. The voluntaryist position of non-voting is the correct one.

One need only look into the philosophy of the Freemasons, as presented in the Hermetic tradition— as outlined by one of their publications, The Kybalion—, to understand their inspiration and how they operate. This short book describes the polar forces of the Universe, and how they can be used to shift one’s “mental gender” in order to influence “lower planes” of existence, the material planes on which the unthinking masses operate. The basic wisdom of The Kybalion is rather unquestionable—the Universe does contain polarities, and planes of power—, although the intentions can be understood in terms of narcissistic egoism. The tradition is concerned with power. Hermeticism, however, was an ancient Greco-Egyptian religion, which has already found success. History must move forward. No longer does might alone make right, as it did in the agricultural era, but, in the industrial era—the age of republics— right is gaining in its ability to organize the might of the masses. Republics themselves represent the transition from monarchy to aristocracy, a reduction in power which followed The Enlightenment. The show must go on.[2]

Elections represent some of the largest displays of political engineering. Every four years the population is divided between two individuals, a Republican and a Democrat. Today’s Republican is a religious conservative in a red necktie, and it’s Democrat a secular liberal in blue. This is not unlike Rafael’s depiction in The School of Athens of Plato, author of The Republic, standing to the right in his red flowing robes, pointing to the sky (where the gods reside), and his younger, more liberal student, Aristotle, a democrat in blue, standing to the left. Left and right wings were added to politics, it may be added, after conservatives were seated on the right side of the French Estates General, wanting to preserve the power of the monarchy and religious tradition, and liberals, after more democratization and secularism, were seated on the left. The two-party system in the United States reflects a similar divide. Throughout the years, the two-party system and the parties within it has developed, at some points swapping tendencies altogether, but what has always remained consistent is a two-party system, by which the elite, in their smoke-filled rooms, may dictate the “choices” of the masses before they happen, making them seem like true choices. Everyone with half of a brain understands that the Republicans and Democrats are two faces of the same band of bankers and mega corporations. The real government is that of the bankers, and it lurks in the shadows.

From what we’ve seen in history, the state originated with the private capture of land rents in areas such as Mesopotamia, and likely became violent after peaceful states had been taken over by pastoralists from the Eurasian Steppe. After this point, communities more commonly acknowledged as states, due to their class stratification, and such, started to become more standard. This represented a sort of “fall” for human culture, which would increase until the mid-late agricultural era. It was slowed toward the end of the agricultural era, and was turned around by the industrial age. The breaking down of power that capitalist republics represent over that of feudalist monarchies represents the “rise” of human culture back onto its feet, a trend that is likely continuing. While understanding capitalist republics to be the current enemy of the panarchist, they must also be understood to be a part of the liberating process, even if it did not complete the journey. This being so, we can understand the shift to capitalist republics as historically positive, even if they represent the current paradigm we wish to get away from.

The shifting from monarchical feudalism toward republican capitalism was ushered by the free thought of The Enlightenment, the waking of people to new ideas. These ideas were primarily expressed within the aristocracy, who would band together into secret societies, such as the Freemasons. Rather than attempting reform, some of the Freemasons sponsored revolutionary activities, such as those undertaken by Joseph Warren and the Sons of Liberty. Within their own class, the aristocracy depended on an actual sense of democratic equality to maintain their organizations. This was non-threatening to them, because they came from similar economic backgrounds, and benefited largely from the same sorts of privileges, namely private property. The aristocrats did not have the numbers needed to support the revolution on their own, and so depended also on gaining support from the working classes. In order to do this, they pretended to involve them in decision-making, which gave the workers a sense of security and inclusion. From this sense of inclusive democracy, the aristocracy developed their power.

While certainly not wanting to take their direct path, and being unable to do so as workers in the first place, there is much to be learned from the aristocracy who overthrew the English monarchy. While depending on deception, they also understood the fact that people will not work towards something that is not directly beneficial to them. As aristocrats, they could manufacture a sense of inclusiveness from their smoke-filled rooms, while not actually delivering inclusion to the working classes in anything substantial. Within their own class, however, they genuinely relied on fairness, and conditions suitable to everyone. Likewise, the working classes in America, if they want to gain power, must do so by building a greater sense of inclusion and security. Unlike the aristocrats, however, they have no one to trick, and must be genuine in their offerings, as workers themselves make up the masses, and lack the surpluses with which to utilize the magic of aristocratic secret societies. So long as workers remain mesmerized by elections, and don’t themselves begin to construct a free society, they will remain under the control of those in smoke-filled rooms.

Slaves don’t own their labor, serfs don’t own their land, and workers don’t own their capital. In the late horticultural and early agricultural age, freedom entailed a lack of bindings. In the agricultural era more generally, freedom entailed land-holdings. Today, freedom entails access to capital. Any move made by American workers, must be an act of sovereignty in regard to capital, in defiance of the decrees of its deciding classes. Workers must give up on the illusion of American freedom, which they have never truly had. Nothing better will come by voting for one corporate puppet over another. Instead, we must follow after the advice of Max Stirner, who suggests to us that the Sultan acts on his own accord, and, if we want to have power like the Sultan, we must act similarly. While the American government may be considered a foe of liberty, the solution to the problem is in following its actions, but without its trickery. While oppressed by the corporate aristocracy, this is so because the aristocrats challenged a monarchy and won. If workers are to be freed, they must successfully challenge an aristocracy. Lucky for workers, the trend of history seems to be heading in their favor.

[1] Similar to the Kurgan raiders, the Vikings faced harsh climates, and relied on pillaging high-rent areas. This was not necessarily unjust on their part, no more so than the private claims to economic rent held by those they robbed.

[2] Some have valid criticisms regarding the effects of The Enlightenment, suggesting that it came with a reduction in personal integrity and a neglect of myth and morality. Naturally, as the thesis, private control, shifts to its antithesis, majority control, balance is not to be found. An anarchist society, representing the synthesis, must include the positive aspects of each.

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