Why Panarchists Should Embrace Dualist Pantheism (With Seven Key Reasons)

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For more information on dualist pantheism, see the two opening essays of my book, “The Evolution of Consent: Collected Essays,” which are entitled “The Journey of Realization: An Introduction to Dualist Pantheism,” and “The Duality of Perspective and the Spectrum of Reason.”
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Introduction

From anarchism to panarchism

Panarchism is an interesting topic, as it is a sort of middle ground between statism and anti-statism. While panarchists do not support the traditional state, or necessarily even a sovereign representative of the populace, panarchists do support an umbrella institution which allocates subsidiary rights to smaller units. This is not a position which necessarily opposes anarchism, but one which recognizes the subjectivity involved in defining anarchism itself. Government to one may be voluntary to another. Still more, government, by definition, is held by the anarchists to be an involuntary association, but to the liberal, such as followers of Rousseau and Locke, government is an institution which relies on the consent of the governed. For those who consent, government is liberation, but for those it oppresses, it is domination. Panarchism sorts out the mess, by allowing each to live in the government, or non-government, of their choosing: anarchists to live in anarchy, liberals to live in liberaltopia, communists in their communes, capitalists in their privatized communities, etc. In so doing, and recognizing the subjectivity of freedom, panarchism promotes a sort of meta-anarchism; if each person lives in the “government” of their choosing, and if we lay semantic arguments aside, each person lives in a differing version of anarchy. This, of course, is as seen through the lens of the anarchist. The statist would suggest that each lives according to their preferred government. At the end of the day, this semantic debate is less important than the actual realization of contentment for both sides.

One of the most limiting aspects of anarchism is the negative-orientation of the philosophy. This is not to say that there are not anarchists who promote a positive model of anarchism, but that the general populace understands anarchism to be a lack of organization and an act of dismantling. Anti-organizationalist anarchists, and many individualist anarchists, suggest this also to be the truth, at least at the larger scales of reality. That is, many individualist anarchists—such as anarcho-capitalists— promote a model of “mere anti-statism,” in which monopolistic capital is supported, while unrecognized as a form of statism in itself. Many anti-organizational anarchists see it as their duty to keep organizations from establishing rules of order and social contracts, even when established by way of consensus. In many senses, anarchism is truly reduced to chaos in these applications. In rejecting the positive historical role of the state and religion altogether—the power of monarchies and monotheism to unite warring tribes, for instance—, many of these anarchists fall short in their vision of a society free of such conflicts, which, in the past, were resolved by way of the state and organized religion.

If anarchism is seen as a constant negation, an unrelenting “anti-” to everything, anarchism really has nothing to offer the populace at large in terms of something better. If that something better were to arrive, these atheistic, nihilistic, and anti-organizationalist anarchists would surely oppose it on principle alone. If they had it their way—and they would never admit it—everything would fall apart. However, if anarchism is seen as affirmation of people and their already-existent values—even those with which we have disagreements— it begins to have more of a “pull;” it brings more people in. If anarchism can promote a model which embraces and compartmentalizes differences, and allows them to coexist at their own expense, it begins to move from the world of ideas to the world of actualization. Does it really matter if others understand what anarchism is? Can anarchism be lived without being understood? Well, we see it all over the place: the cooperative movement, democratic churches, participatory labor unions, free schools, etc. all carry antiauthoritarian weight without their participants having to ascribe philosophically to the ideals behind their creation. Does it matter if some call anarchy government, so long as we, as anarchists, would not? Well then, allow others to bask in their blunders, for our truths are seen as blunders to them as well! So long as our blunders do not impede on one another, they are inconsequential.

 Anarchist rejection of spirituality

It is common in anarchist circles to reject spirituality altogether. From phrases such as “No gods, no masters!” and written works like Bakunin’s “God and the State,” to more contemporary heretics such as Chaz Bufe, anarchists have often been hostile to metaphysical beliefs. This has not always, nor has it ever exclusively, been the case. Proudhon, the father of modern anarchism, for instance, was highly influenced by Christian scripture, even if he was not a conventional Christian by any stretch of the imagination. Groups such as the Catholic Worker have long provided a Christian expression of anarchist values. The literary great, Leo Tolstoy, also expressed a strong embrace of Christian anarchism. Even still, the overarching belief set of anarchists, as it relates to such things as cosmology, has been atheistic and materialistic. At any rate, those anarchists who hold to one side or the other often have a hard time getting along or sharing common goals.

Anarchist criticism of religion has often been well-warranted. The church, for the longest time, was synonymous with the state. After all, the first states were theocratic in nature, holding religious dogmas as absolute commands. The Catholic Church itself was the coopting power of grassroots traditions, such as Gnosticism and pagan religions, into a state-mandated religion. Anarchist criticism often arises due to the fact that church and state have long been conflated. The church, as state, no longer an organization dependent on the voluntary ascription of its members, was no longer subject to accountability. Whereas, before becoming states (and even after, to be fair, but less so), churches performed acts of social cohesion— such as enforcing standards of morality, fostering communal activities, etc.— in order to maintain membership, upon becoming states they were able to unilaterally dictate norms of behavior, membership became involuntary, and society, while still existing, lost a great deal of cohesion and internally-shared values. Those shared values which remained were largely externally enforced, and lacked dedicated exponents. People “got along” in fear of punishment, rather than for sake of shared identity, agreed upon values, and mutual assurance.

The anarchists are correct to reject statism in all of its arrangements, but it is necessary to also understand that statism takes many forms. The state can be the church, the holder of capital, the commune, etc. Any individual or organization which maintains aggressive control and coercive behavior is the state. The state expresses its domination according to its orientation. In capitalism, capitalists are the state, in communism the majority is the state, and in theocracy the church is the state. None of this dictates that capital is bad, that communes are bad, or that churches are bad. These are merely forms in which statism may be manifested and expressed. If the church becomes the state, morality will become domination. If the capitalist becomes the state, exchange becomes domination. If the commune becomes the state, the vote becomes domination. The state can be expressed in a number of manners, consistent with its origins, but this does not entail that exchange, direct-democracy, or religion are inconsistent with liberty in themselves and for everyone, but that these dimensions should be relegated to their proper sphere of influence, and should not step outside the bounds of free association and member-influence.

That anarchists should not reject spirituality on principle is not to suggest that they should embrace Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Judaism, etc. as individuals, but rather that these views should be seen as being consistent with anarchism, and tolerated, so long as they do not breech the free consent of the individual. Any belief system, atheist or religious, is a threat to liberty when it is enforced onto other parties. It is right for anarchists to reject authoritarian religion and scientific dogmas alike, but to support their use by their own adherents, so long as these uses are not to the detriment to others. Just as anarchists should support “governments” for their adherents (but no one else), they should also support religions for those who believe in them. Doing so is recognizing the subjectivity involved in defining freedom. Freedom is the right to self-determination and application of one’s own beliefs and values.

The role of spirituality in social cohesion

Spirituality has long played a role of social cohesion. Religious communities were the first to develop into large societies and, yes, states. This is not due to the inherent authoritarianism of spirituality so much as historical chance and consequence. If the bank, or the secular community, for instance, was around when agriculture began, the first state would have been capitalistic or communistic. It just so happens that morality is a precursor for interpersonal exchanges, civic and economic. Without some form of morality—such as respect for property rights or due process— economies and polities alike have a hard time existing. For this reason, early institutions were highly morally-oriented, and, because ethics and morality are directly tied to cause and effect, and thus first and final causation, religious traditions were adopted in order to explain why people should treat each other with consideration, even despite a lack of empirical evidence (before ethics are put into practice, they cannot be tested, and so early societies established ethics firstly as an untested hypothesis). These early institutions allowed for social cohesion, and, when placed atop the geographic and ecological advantages of the Fertile Crescent, the societies which benefitted from these advantages grew at a quicker rate, and became more powerful. They enslaved other societies, and established themselves as states and, later, empires. The benefits to one society, which allowed them leisure for innovation and self-expression, became the cause by which the others lost their freedom. Freedom for one becomes another’s slavery. Does this mean that freedom is to be rejected? Certainly not. It is to be self-limited; freedom should never go so far for one as to reduce freedom for another. This is the principle of equal liberty, long expressed by anarchists.

Shared morality and a common faith tradition allows for social cohesion and common understanding. That this cohesion and understanding has played a role detrimental to others is no reason to suggest that it should be avoided altogether, but that its benefits should be more justly, or fairly, shared. The fact remains that social cohesion and common understanding rely on institutions which facilitate moral behavior. If any society is dependent on the moral behavior and self-regulation of its members, it is an anarchist society.

 From atheism to pantheism

Anarchistic embrace of atheism and materialism does much to support individualism, a necessary component of anarchism, but atheism and materialism has little support for collectivities, which rely on shared values and common spheres of sovereignty. Materialist ideologies support hedonistic ethics, but lack in transcendental ideals. With the focus on the individual, the collectivity diminishes. Individualism, in its strong sense, is necessarily reductionist, and ignores the emergent properties of society, seeing it as a collection of individuals alone. The value of society is greater than the sum of its parts, however. Society is not an accidental conglomeration of individuals who gain nothing, grow no more in contentment, by concerted effort, but an organism to itself, which provides new value to its component parts upon its construction.

One of the limiting properties of atheism is that it very well describes the material world, which is governed by entropy and tends toward dissipation, but has little to say in regard to creative potential. This is a limiting property especially for atheist anarchists, who hold an anarchist society as being ideal, without having any empirical evidence (three years in Spain, medieval Iceland, etc., but nothing recent or lasting) to back up their position. This being so, having a materialistic ontology, combined naturally with an objectivist and empirical epistemology, the beliefs behind atheism are antagonistic to those of anarchism. Anarchism is a form of political idealism, but atheism is considered a form of metaphysical realism. The two are not mutually reinforcing, but contradictory.

Retaining realism while embracing ideas

A truly liberatory belief system will embrace those ideas that are pragmatically relevant, be they scientific or religious in nature. In accepting spirituality, one does not have to reject science, nor vice-versa. A pragmatic approach would best entail compartmentalizing these perspectives to their relevant spheres. One should not reject science on the whole, just because we realize that ideas are non-material, and that we may never be able to reduce emotional states to an exact science. Neither should we reject spirituality on the whole, simply because it fails to describe the laws of physics. Rather, we must understand that science and empiricism are wonderful tools for describing objective phenomena, and that spirituality and rationalism provide a means by which we may approximate a closer understanding of subjective noumena. If we want to know what someone thinks, or how taking a certain action affects another person’s emotional state, we have to ask them. We can’t just put their brain under a microscope. Neither can we ask a desk how it feels about being moved, or to move itself. We cannot just wish a boulder to remove itself from our path. If we wish to move the boulder, it helps to understand its properties of mass, and the laws of friction. Still, each has an application.

One can retain a realistic outlook while embracing a degree of idealism. We can understand how things worked in the past and continue to work without believing that this is the end of evolution. Yes, we should recognize scientific discoveries and apply them to our daily lives. However, we must also recognize that science tells us about known-knowns, while there also exist unknown-knowns. That is, science can tell us what we know we know (empiricism), but it cannot tell us what we don’t know that we know (hypothesis that proves to be correct), or what we don’t know we don’t know (a possibility which hasn’t even been considered). Spirituality can often be seen as the attempt to take part in a living hypothesis, in hopes that it will prove to be correct. In other words, spirituality is often the attempt to uncover an unknown-known, and to make it doubly known. It is the acceptance of intuition, an act of faith. Spirituality, in other words, provides the hypothesis, while science analyzes the data. Life is a constant hypothesis, which science has a hard time describing, but matter is easily ratified under its microscope.

A Quick Introduction to Dualist Pantheism

 Pantheism

What exactly is pantheism? In short, pantheism is the belief that the Universe is God, or that God is the Universe. In other words, pantheism is the view that the Universe is self-determined, and does not rely on anything outside of itself for existence. Pantheists do not believe there is a God which is larger than the Universe. If there was something larger than the Universe as we know it, pantheists would expand their definition of God and the Universe to include this entity. A good example of this can be found in pantheist acceptance of multiverse theory; if there are many universes, God is the collection of all of those universes (many universes, one Universe).

Pantheism is different from atheism in that it ascribes the Universe a divine personality, or will, of sorts. Atheists often believe the Universe to be lacking in meaning and value, or take an existentialist position in which meaning and value are entirely human creations, but pantheists are much more likely to take the position that meaning and value are inherent in the Universe, but are accessed by way of human realization. In other words, meaning and value are a part of the Universe, but we are the mechanism through which this is expressed and manifested. We are understood to be a process of the Universe, and our individual will is understood to be a portion of the cumulative will of the Universe itself. Our individual will is respected as a part of the divine will.

Dualism

Dualist pantheism is not a form of substance dualism, but attribute dualism. In other words, dualist pantheists do not believe that mind (or idealism) and matter (or realism) are completely different from one another, or are irreconcilably separate. Instead, dualist pantheists believe that mind and matter are two expressions of, or ways of understanding, an underlying reality. In other words, dualist pantheism is a form of substance-monism.

Dualist pantheists believe everything to be a part of an underlying eternalism and necessity. Dualist pantheists believe that, ultimately, all coordinates in space-time exist, even when they are inaccessible to us. This means that dualist pantheists suggest that the past and future exist, even if they are not currently accessible as part of the present. This belief is called eternalism. While space-time itself, the spectrum including all physical and temporal positions—all places in space and time—, is understood to be a single substance, this substance expresses itself in dualities. These dualities are recognized by us as space and time, past and present, forward and backward, etc. Thermodynamics and relativity dictate that space and time share a relationship. This is largely because aging is understood as a system’s rate of entropy; as entropy increases, the system ages. This entails that the material past is more highly ordered, denser, and more concentrated, while the material future is more chaotic, more fragmented, and more scattered about. Biology, however, throws a wrench into the gears of this understanding. While young, living systems increase in order, grow in complexity, and accumulate mass.

The duality of dualist pantheism is recognition of these two, and their associated, forces, however they are categorized: living and non-living, organic and mechanical, quality and quantity, subjective and objective, etc. These forces result from the two tendencies of aging: maturation, as one grows young to middle-aged, and degeneration, as one begins the process from middle-age until death. Materialist and objectivist ideologies result from the recognition of entropy, but idealist and subjectivist ideologies result from the recognition of syntropy, which is entropy’s opposite. They are wrong so far as they reject the other, but are correct under their own terms. Syntropy and entropy both exist, and to recognize one without the other is shortsighted.

The duality of entropy and syntropy is synthesized in the absoluteness of God, the stillness of the Monad, the infinitude of the divine. Although we humans recognize difference, the passing of time, and change, these are merely illusions. They are necessary illusions, which we must treat as reality on most occasions, as they allow us to navigate our experiences, but they are illusions nonetheless. What we understand as independent phenomena/noumena are nothing but portions of a reality which we are incapable of perceiving in its entirety (can you imagine the whole Universe, past, present, and future, all at once, and in detail?). While duality speaks to our perspective, in the end, we are all one, connected through the patterns of causality and retrocausality.

Ethics

Dualist pantheism has many implications for ethics. The underlying ethic is, of course, necessity. That is, the dualist pantheist believes that everything that is, has been, and will be is part of a chain of events which could happen in no other order other than the way in which they occur. Everything is considered to be absolutely perfect. It is in our lack of understanding, and in our fragmented perspectives, that we lose sight of this perfection, and start ascribing values such as “good” and “bad,” which are little more than egoistic preferences. Interestingly enough, because these preferences exist, and play a role in cause and effect as we understand it, they too compose a portion of the ultimate perfection. Everything is perfect, past, present, and future, but past, present, and future vary in assorted manners; everything is perfect in its own time, and each time is perfect as it physically is. Change, too, is perfect. While one may exist as part of the perfection of the present, that present perfection may include feelings of discontent, which allow the next phase of perfection (the future) to come into being, and to express its uniqueness. We are exploring the various coordinates of perfection. Perfection includes its present state and its potential for change, simultaneously.

In this way, necessity includes events of the past and present and events of the future within its scope. It affirms the materialism of the past, while also affirming the ideals of the future, as being equally real and equally relevant within their own time. This being so, necessity needs not reject past institutions as being opposed to progress, but as part of the chain of progress which must continue onward. Rather than having us reinvent the wheel, necessity allows us to build upon its efforts. The pantheist, then, can see religion as a progressive entity which must continue its momentum forward, and keep from remaining stagnant, while the panarchist can see republics as positive outgrowths from monarchy, while falling short of the final solution. The necessitarianism of dualist pantheism allows it to explain contradictory occurrences without contradiction or paradox. Where an idealist has a hard time explaining the origins of the non-ideal, and the realist cannot explain their optimism for the future, the necessitarian explains the seeming unfolding of one from the other as the accessing of coordinates on an underlying whole, which supersedes them both.

While the dualist pantheist holds beliefs grounded in the absoluteness of necessity, they also recognize that a part of that necessity lies in their individual experience and perspective. Though we may understand that this necessity exists, we must also understand that we cannot know the complete details of this necessity, which is a perspective reserved for God—the whole, the absolute, the infinite, the unknowable, the all, etc.— alone. We may understand our actions as being a part, but not composing the whole, of necessity. This being so, we must hold true to our own perspectives, while simultaneously respecting the perspectives of others.

Success demonstrates necessity. That which is necessary is that which is successful. The biological arrow of time demonstrates that what is necessary for life is what enriches it; this includes morals, shared values, communication, compassion, etc. Evolution dictates “the survival of the fittest,” and “fitness” is determined by one’s ability to succeed (especially in passing on genes and memes). If we fail, this, too, is necessary, but our goals and intentions which led to our failure were not (lest they come into being). We were wrong. Wrongness is the same as non-existence. Wrong is an assertion of something which is not, and what is not does not exist. What is right continues on, has fecundity, and determines the future. If we do that which is wrong, we cease to exist, or we lose some degree of control, freedom, or being. If we do that which is right, however, we continue to exist, or we gain in existence, control, freedom, or being.

Because of dualist pantheism’s necessitarian outlook, it is easily related to pragmatism, which is an ethic dominated by practical application. Pragmatists, like William James, for instance, embrace the use of any idea which can be considered to be “live.” In other words, any idea or ideology which is not disproven, and which gives it proponents a sense of direction or well-being, and which does not lead to the detriment of the holder, can be considered within the range of pragmatism. This includes ideologies which are not necessarily scientific, but not ideologies which reject science.

Eudamonia provides another compliment to necessitarianism. Because, in necessitarianism, everyone is considered to have a portion of the truth (their experience), but not the whole truth (the experience of all), that which is considered true, and that which is considered good, can be related to varying degrees of truth and goodness. Goodness, for instance, is a measure of desirability. That which is desirable is that which is good. However, that which is desirable to one may contradict the desires of another. This is a lesser good. A higher good is that good which best satisfies its participants. The highest good is that which satisfies all. Virtue is acting in accordance with that which is good and that which is true.

Seven Reasons Dualist Pantheism Should be Embraced by Panarchists

 

  1. Dualist pantheism is non-dogmatic

Dualist pantheism relies on empirical evidence, rationality, and/or logic for its conclusions. The compatibilism of dualist pantheism creates a lens by which science and religion can be seen to hold competing truths, rather than being necessarily at odds. While embracing science and spirituality, and recognizing objective and subjective truths, simultaneously, dualist pantheism suggests that these must be applied properly in order to be applicable.

  1. Dualist pantheism is all-inclusive

Dualist pantheism understands that all beliefs—whether ideal or real, subjective or objective, spiritual or material, etc.— are inclined toward some sort of truth. Dualist pantheism embraces the objectivistic creeds of atheists, agnostics, deists, and others as an ideological expression of the real or material attribute of the Universe. Simultaneously, dualist pantheism embraces the subjectivistic beliefs of theists, gnostics, interventionalists, and more as an ideological expression of the ideal or spiritual attribute of the Universe. It suggests that these objectivist and subjectivist belief-sets each share a portion of the absolute truth, which supercedes and includes them both in necessity.

  1. Dualist pantheism is an anarchistic approach to cosmology

Dualist pantheism promotes the self-determination of the individual as part of the unfolding of the creative process of the Universe. When we create, we are expressing God’s creative potential as well as our own, as we are a part of God, and all that we do is included as a part of God’s behavior. As a part of the unfolding process of God’s (formal) creation, dualist pantheism promotes the existential creation of meaning and value. Dualist pantheism recognizes the divinity and importance in all things. God is understood to be the collective will of the Universe.

  1. Dualist pantheism promotes an ontology of freedom

Dualist pantheism embraces the struggle for freedom and self-determination as part of a teleological process of syntropy and becoming. Dualist pantheists suggest that biological evolution demonstrates a tendency toward growing amounts of complexity, order, morality, and freedom. Those organisms and species which are capable of making more decisions, treating each other fairly, acting in an orderly fashion, etc. are those that are most likely to pass on their genes and memes, which means a future which is more free, fair, orderly, etc.

  1. Dualist pantheism supports an epistemology of consensus and subsidiarity

Dualist pantheism suggests that no individual has the whole truth on their own, but that each individual holds a portion of the truth (dualist pantheists also suggest that human emotions are an important component of truth). This being so, dualist pantheism recognizes and honors both individual and collectively held truths, and suggests that individuals should be free to express their own truths at their own costs and to their own benefit, and that collectivities should have the same right. Individuals and collectivities alike must be understood to be sacred and sovereign. While dualist pantheism suggests that the absolute truth is found in shared understanding, it suggests also that shared understanding may only be accessed by way of consent, and cannot be forced.

  1. Dualist pantheism supports non-empirical arguments as used by anarchists

While dualist pantheists embrace those empirical truths which can be found, they also embrace hypotheses based in logic, intuition, and rationality in the absence of empirical evidence to the contrary. Even when information is missing, one must still make decisions, and doing so is thereby carrying out a test of one’s hypothesis in the process. Modern anarchists and panarchists, having no recent or lasting empirical evidence of their ideology’s potential, is based largely in the proponent’s faith that society can exist under conditions of shared power. Dualist pantheism suggests that such use of faith is a necessary component of progress.

  1. Dualist pantheism creates a cohesive platform for anarchist morals and tradition

Like all societies, an anarchist society, if it is to be successful, will depend on a shared set of moral guidelines. In order for a society to be anarchistic, it must not force any specific creed or dogma onto any portion of the populace, and, therefore, must include, or at least respect, all creeds and dogmas. Dualist pantheism, by uniting real and ideal, objective and subjective, etc. into the absolute and necessary, creates a means by which all ideologies can be understood as holding a portion of the truth. Dualist pantheism, in supporting an ontology of freedom and an epistemology of consensus and subsidiarity, supports a naturalistic and humanistic theology capable of unifying society according to principles which are in accordance with anarchist values.

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