Freedom and Domination: Toward a Reunification of Values

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As soon as the relationship between lord and subject is established, hearts become daily more filled with evil designs, until the manacled criminals sullenly doing forced labour in the mud and the dust are full of mutinous thoughts, the Sovereign trembles with anxious fear in his ancestral temple, and the people simmer with revolt in the midst of their poverty and distress; and to try to stop them revolting by means of rules and regulations, or control them by means of penalties and punishments, is like trying to dam a river in full flood with a handful of earth, or keeping the torrents of water back with one finger. — Bao Jingyan, Neither Lord Nor Subject

In many of my recent essays, including Justice and the Anarchic Encounter and Eternal Social War, I have spent a substantial amount of time talking about “the balance of interests” and “the expansion and elaboration of power,” and in the process I have found myself trying to abstract away from the specific content of those interests or the specific direction of that power. Because of that, I think I’ve started to lose sight of the core of my anarchism, to confuse my own thinking and give birth to more “bats in my belfry.” I have begun to think that my next task must be a reunification of the parts of my thought, a return to the vitality of my early essays and away from the dry and arid abstraction of my later essays. This essay is the beginning of that process of trying to brush away the cobwebs that have begin to cloud the attic of my mind, to open the windows and let the fresh air of acknowledging my own values and beliefs in to blow away the stuffy value-free atmosphere of “balance” and “equilibrium” that has begun to settle there. That is not to say that I reject what I wrote in those essays — I still think they present some useful tools for thinking about things, but I must remind myself that I am trying to find an equilibrium of power in order to achieve a specific goal, that I am trying to achieve the non-concept, the pointing name, that is justice-as-balance with a specific end in mind; to hide that between the lines might make my work seem more “objective” (and that is perhaps the unconscious drive that has led me this far, frustratingly), but that is illusory and renders all my concepts nonsense.

All of this writing that I’ve done that I’m not so unhappy with was meant to provide more tools for conceptual clarity in identifying and preventing domination and hierarchy, but I fear in the process of trying to crystallize things to satisfy the part of myself that always screams for absolute clarity and objectivity, I have only made things worse; I think in the process I might have let a crucial thing, the beating heart of my anarchism, be thrown to the wayside: the fact that there is a crucial difference between interests of domination and exploitation and interests that are concerned with the independence, liberty, freedom, flourishing, and autonomy of individuals, and that for someone who values autonomy and anti-authoritarianism — as an anarchist must, to be an anarchist — the former must be unilaterally rejected.

Thus, in this essay, I want to return to that wellspring of anarchism that is the rejection of domination and the value of human life, flourishing, and autonomy — to bring all the threads of my thought back together and tie them down to what is really underlying all my efforts, what is really important to me. Thus, first, I am going to outline this core, and then demonstrate how each of the concepts I have recently examined link to it.

Autonomous and Despotic Interests

The core to everything in my writing is the crucial difference between autonomous interests and despotic (or dominating, I’ve grown to prefer that word) interests. I stated it most explicitly in Democracy Won’t Save You, but I’m going to try to clarify it even further here. The heart of the difference, stated succinctly, is that autonomous interests are first and foremost focused on being able to control one’s own life, while dominating interests are, conversely, primarily interested in controlling others’ lives. It is the difference between controlling others when necessary, in a response to their attempts to control you, in order to preserve one’s own self-determination, and using one’s self-determination to control what other people are doing when otherwise it wouldn’t have effected you significantly and they weren’t trying to control you. This is the same distinction between actions and interests that the non-aggression principle makes with regard to force itself: force used in response to initiatory force, with the goal of eliminating the use of force, is different from the initiation of force with some other goal in mind. This has similar logic to Karl Popper’s solution to the “paradox” of tolerance as well — the idea that tolerance (or in this case non-violence or non-controlling-others) is not an absolute moral principle we have to stand by at all costs like pacifists, but a thing that we value, which we can, and must, act to preserve, by eliminating the things that damage it, by not tolerating intolerance (or by not tolerating violence or domination). This is is a difficult distinction to make in some cases, and depending on how you view proportionality and the borders between people there can be disagreement (and this is something anarchist conflict resolution mechanisms would have to resolve) but on the extreme ends the difference is clear.

Thus, my anarchism is not about furthering of all interests indiscriminately, in an undifferentiated mass, the fascists’ along with the anarchists’, the murderers’ along with the victims’, in some kind of absolutist centrism, in the hopes that they will all balance out somehow and lead to an egalitarian anarchist world. I want to eliminate domination wherever possible, by whatever means that is effective, to make space for each person to have self-determination, and a say in their own lives. I want to further each person’s autonomy, and therefore their “autonomous interests” — interests to do with each person being able to live their own lives as they see fit, to learn and grow and express themselves and find their uniqueness, as long as it doesn’t interfere with other people’s equal ability to do likewise. Concepts like justice-as-balance are not value-free, they cannot be divorced from an underlying desire for reality to look and be a certain way.

Autonomous interests extend to controlling things outside of your person, or controlling other people (self-defense), only insofar as doing so is necessary to create a world in which your self-determination is possible. It must be recognized that you are a physical creature, who requires a roof over your head, ground under your feet to stand on, food and water in your belly, and in general a space in which to exist and experiment and live for yourself. If you do not control these things, you have nothing, no matter how free your mind may be, and if someone else control these things, they control you by extension. Having these things does not necessarily require the ongoing control of people to provide: you don’t need slaves or subjects to be able to control your own life. They only require some projection of power over those who try to overstep those boundaries or take these things from you. Everything else follows from this: for my anarchist world of maximum autonomy for all to come to fruition, everyone must have a say in whatever they depend on in order to be able to live their lives and maintain their independence, otherwise those who do have control over those things will control them by extension.

Crucially, as I also outlined in Democracy Won’t Save You, each individual’s say in things must be proportional to the degree to which their autonomy depends on it and is bound up in that thing (a point recently recalled to me by a close friend). Doing so ensures that autonomy is preserved and domination is made impossible, since each person will then have a say in each thing insofar as it is important to maintaining their autonomy, and therefore be able to properly act to preserve it, while those to whose autonomy something is not relevant are denied control over it, because in having that control they could only wish to achieve interests which lead to domination over others through the absentee lordship over material things that are important to other people’s autonomy, but not to one’s own, and controlling other people’s autonomy is called domination.

In comparison, dominating interests are far less about the ability to control one’s own life, and far more about exploiting others for one’s own gain. How other people dress, interact with each other, or choose to labor, produce, and exchange with each other would not necessarily have to effect you unless you purposefully made it your business — unless you took time to explicitly look at what they were doing and decide to care. Instead of having to interact with — cooperate or compel — others only because what they are choosing to do in this moment is something that effects you whether you like it or not, unavoidably intruding on your life and your self-determination in some way, you create a new and otherwise avoidable way in which their lives effect your interests, and it is an interest which inherently requires controlling them, instead of being able to exist in peace if nobody decides to interfere with you.

This is where the distinction between interests that are more about controlling others, and interests that are more about being able to control your own life and circumstances, that I made in Power and Hierarchy becomes so important:

The crucial difference between these kinds of “egalitarian,” unobjectionable uses of “coercion” and coercion exercised in a way that leads to power over others, hierarchy, domination, etc. (which is typically what people are referring to when they call something coercion) is that in the second case, it’s aggressive interference — marching into someone’s life and telling them what to do and not to do when otherwise they would’ve had nothing to do with you [and you would not have been affected much if at all by their actions had you not made it your business yourself], or taking control of the things they use to maintain their lives — while in the more common case it’s a reaction, it’s defensive — we are controlling their lives in a sense, but only to get them to stop dominating and controlling ours. I don’t want to become my landlord’s landlord, I just want to get him to stop being my landlord, etc.

Whether someone is controlling others only to not themselves be controlled, or controlling others for the purpose merely of controlling them is a detailed, case by case thing, an area that I leave up to judgment, although I don’t think it’s very often a difficult thing to determine — just ask whose life is effected more by the use of coercion. If what you want to control effects my life more than yours, then you are trying to control me — if your life more than mine, you are more interested in controlling yourself. Thus for instance if someone is trying to outlaw public displays of affection on the part of queer people because they don’t want to see it, they are trying to control queer people, because that effects queer people’s lives far more than their own (not having to see something you can easily ignore, versus not being able to express affection toward a loved one). if something barely effects you, but is an intimate expression of personal autonomy and self-determination for someone else, and you set out to control hat expression, then no matter how you attempt to spin it, this is more about controlling the other person than protecting yourself.

Already nascent in this analysis is the idea that one’s level of say in something should be proportional to how much it affects one, and as soon as the control becomes disproportionate, it becomes more about controlling others, destroying their autonomy and dominating over them, than it is about preserving one’s own autonomy — and for an anarchist to whom personal autonomy is life and domination is the specter of death, this is a dangerous line to cross indeed. As I said in What Is Individualist Anarchism?

They [landlords, capitalists, and others who seek to dominate others through property] have broken the single “law” which a community of anarchists must recognize: that any autonomy gained by the domination and subjugation of others is illegitimate, that any autonomy gained by the restriction of the autonomy of others (when that autonomy itself is not coercive), is not to be tolerated. They have thrown the gift of respect for their autonomy that others have granted them, in letting them determine the fate of the products of their labor, back in the face of everyone by using that gift of autonomy to restrict the autonomy of the very people that gave them that gift, and have therefore forfeited their right.

This perhaps most clearly states the stance I take on dominating interests: whatever else we might do to try to balance or understand the interests of free people interacting in anarchic conditions, whatever we might say about how we want people to be able to achieve their interests or express and elaborate their will to power in the world, it is with the implicit fundamental rejection of interests that inherently require domination, prior to everything else.

I think at this point it’s fair to acknowledge that being able to discern domination from non-domination depends to some degree on how one chooses to draw the borders between persons. A propertarian capitalist who buys into Locke’s theory of property might say that property is itself an extension of the self, whereas someone who believes in collective consciousness might think that even what someone does across the world effects me in some way. What is “my affair” versus what is “your affair?” Despite the possibility of disagreement over the boundaries of the self, though, according to my concerns the answer remains clear.

I am concerned with the act and experience of living life in the ever-changing present moment: as we experience life now, as we are making choices and forming and shaping ourselves for each new instant. Anything that is not an active part of someone’s choices and a current extension of themselves is of no concern to me, whether it has some kind of metaphysical, conceptual, or “logical” connection or not. Therefore, I am working within a framework concerned with domination over our active and ongoing lives, instead of one concerned with domination over, or the violation of, dead “rights” constructed on an absolute template according to supposed metaphysical connections between entities according to their history. As Stirner says, “Let [one] tear [my leg] off me and see if he still has my leg! He holds nothing in his hand but—the corpse of my leg, which is as little my leg as a dead dog is still a dog. A dog has a beating heart, a so-called dead dog has none and so is no longer a dog.” Just because something was a part of me does not mean it maintains its connection forever. That is also why, after I am dead, I don’t care at all what’s done with my body, because it isn’t mine anymore, I just used to live in it.

In this framework, even those who think that alienated labor, in the form of property, is an extension of the self in some sense would begin to see my point: once labor is alienated and given to another person, it has passed out of your life, because you are no longer actively using it, depending on it for your own direct use, controlling the labor, or experiencing doing the labor. It is over and done with and someone else has it now. What someone does with that product of your labor now does not directly effect you anymore — that labor is already alienated. It has passed out from you and into the world, no longer ongoing and no longer actively connected to you or your senses or experience of living. Whatever way you wish to define selfhood in a metaphysical sense, tracing crisscrossing spiritual lines here and there across the world as long as one drop of someone’s effort has gone into something, that has little effect on the actual experience of being an embodied person here and now. Thus, maintaining control over alienated labor after it has already been given away, and is possessed by someone else inevitably has more to do with controlling the lives of the people now using that property than it has to do with having control over one’s own life.

Situating Them Within My Thought

The reason I’m spending so much time on this distinction between domination and non-domination is because of its place as the prime mover of all of my values and arguments. I want to live in a world where each person is given as much space and ability as possible to live their own lives, choose their own destinies, express themselves, become the best and most free versions of themselves, and make a positive difference in the world — to “rise up again in the flowering potential of all of our individualized members” — and in order to make that possible, invading the lives of others, coercing them in a way that isn’t just to protect someone’s own space for flourishing and self-actualization, must be rejected as unacceptable. Everything else I write is an attempt to understand aspects of this goal.

My two later, more theory-laden essays, Justice and the Anarchic Encounter and Eternal Social War, are just my attempts to express some different ways of thinking about and analyzing aspects of this goal, ways of solving some of the problems that might arise from trying to extend everyone’s power as far as it will go (since some people will ultimately want to have power over others, but allowing that would wreck my initial goal of extending everyone’s power and autonomy as much as it will go equally). They are not to be taken as the whole of my project, or even the core of it — ultimately, what constitutes domination and what constitutes self-defense or an exercise of autonomy must be taken on a case by case basis, resolved by family resemblances and one’s deeper values and understandings of the lived experiences of the people involved, so to take either justice-as-balance or the equilibrium of power found in “eternal social war” as the final word on what is or is not “good” from my perspective is to mistake a tool in my belt for the thing I’m trying to build itself.

Tools must for me always remain subordinate to the natural feelings aroused in me by situations and ideas, and my case-by-case analysis of various actual systems, hierarchies, institutions, or even one-off individual actions. Reality is made up of particularities, differences, and details, not generalizations, it is itself, not the universal, and every detail is potentially relevant. Ultimately, an analysis of power cannot give a value-free account of what really counts as domination and what counts as self-defense, because in both cases you are using coercion to make someone do what you want them to do — the line at which point it flips depends on what you value about human life and existence, what you want people to do and not do, etc, and general rules all ultimately fail. As Proudhon said himself in The Philosophy of Progress:

It is still necessary to know, and never to lose from view, that even the most authentic and most certain method of reasoning cannot always, by itself, lead to a complete distinction of truth. It is, I have said elsewhere, in the classification of ideas as it is in those of the animals and the plants, as in the operations of mathematics themselves. In the two kingdoms, animal and vegetable, the genera and species are not everywhere and always susceptible to a precise determination; they are well defined only in the individuals placed at the extremities of the series; the intermediaries, compared to those, are often unclassifiable. The more one prolongs the analysis, the more one sees spring up, from the observation of characteristics, reasons for and against any given classification… It is thus with ideas, and all those who have scanned the treatises of jurisprudence, who have occupied themselves with trials and with proceedings, have felt it. Ideas, I say, are not always, whatever subtlety of dialectic we employ, completely determinable; there is a mass of cases where the elucidation will always leave something to be desired.

Justice-As-Balance

Now that I’ve explained some vitally important concepts, I want to tie justice-as-balance back into the mix. The idea of justice-as-balance is that, in situations without imbalances of power, systems of domination, hierarchies, and authorities (intellectual or corporeal), when two or more individuals’ interests conflict in some way, whatever results from their process of bargaining in order to avoid a conflict must ultimately consider their interests equally and also create no new hierarchies. Thus, this is a good tool for generally understanding what sorts of relations and arrangements might arise in an anarchist setting. As a secondary feature, it’s also a fairly good way to analyze whether domination is actually occurring, because if non-domination necessarily implies balance, than a significant lack of balance in turn implies domination, although by the underlying logic of that contrapositive, there could be domination that manifests in other ways. This makes sense: if someone is able to place their interests above yours, so that they get what they want and you only get what they are willing to grant you, what they decide you are worthy of, if one interest gets to make decisions for the other but there is no reciprocity, no mutual decision, then it is very clearly the case that some kind of domination is at play. In conditions of equality, agreements are mutual: both sides get to decide what the outcome will be, both make sacrifices for the other in order to get what they want in exchange. The degree of domination or power imbalance in play, then, is the degree to which one interest is subordinate to and conditioned on another, more primary interest. So for instance, with an minimum-wage employer, employees don’t get a say in their pay: they either take what the company wants to give them, or leave. There’s no input on their part.

The natural question that such an analysis raises, if it is not approached sufficiently carefully, concerns the conflict between dominating and autonomous interests. What about the conflict between the interests of one who wants to dominate and control others, to make them march to the beat of their drum and not dance unless it is to their tune, or none at all, who makes the affairs of others their business, and those who merely wish to be left “alone” to live their lives how they choose with the willing cooperation of others? There is a fundamental conflict here — how do we resolve it?

There are several answers.

First of all, there is the answer that I gave in Justice and the Anarchic Encounter itself: when individuals are taken as wholes, and not simply collections of discrete interests that can be looked at in isolation — and all interests ultimately intertwine anyway into one interest — when the situation is looked at in its completeness and the counterfactual alternatives are examined, it becomes clear that to satisfy a dominating interest is in effect to generate imbalance. This is because a dominating interest requires being able to control yourself and your life, and the voluntary associations you have with others, and also to be able to control another person as well, while that person in turn gets whatever is left of their own control after you’re done with it. The priority is always on the person doing the dominating, and they get the lion’s share of everything. While if their interests are denied, each goes their own way with equal control over their own lives, equal self-determination. You can’t use your self-determination to control me, and neither I you. Thus, that kind of strong control over others, especially backed by coercion, is something that no one would agree to if given an equal playing field, where their interests as a whole are equally considered. Such an agreement could only arise because, for example, the property rights of the dominator, in, for example, a river’s water, are held as more important, even though they are less critical to the dominator, than the interests in the subjugated person in being able to acquire water, and so the owner of the water can use it as leverage.

Of course, there is one imperfection in leaving this analysis as-is: the question of equal, mutual domination. One possible solution that would preserve domination, but also create equality, is for everyone to have an equal capability to invade and meddle in each other’s lives. This is the nosy country town trope taken to its furthest, least inviting extreme, and to be quite frank, it sounds like hell. Everyone up in everyone else’s business, forcing them or manipulating them to live in the way they want, enforcing their ideas… You wouldn’t think any right-minded person would want a world like this, but, quite honestly, this is precisely the world that many conservatives, especially fundamentalist religious ones, intentionally create and maintain for themselves.

This is the problem with taking Spencer’s maxim “each has freedom to do all that he wills provided that he infringes not the equal freedom of any other” too literally — I would then be free to punch you in the nose if only I allowed you to do the same to me! This is why Tucker, when he stole that phrase, edited it, to say this: “the largest amount of liberty compatible with equality and mutuality of respect, on the part of individual’s living in society, for their respective spheres of action.” Here, it is implied that each person must have as much liberty as can be had while they also respect each other’s “respective spheres of action” — i.e. their separateness as individuals and their ability to act autonomously.

Thus, the only proper answer to this question is to explain that justice-as-balance is meant to provide a general intuition for how arrangements under anarchist conditions may be made, and so is specifically designed to deal with the inevitable overlap of interests that are not first eradicated by the destruction of domination — i.e. it is meant as a guide to resolving the overlap between each person’s sphere of autonomy, within which otherwise they are supposed to have the maximum power to shape and form things, including themselves, however they please. It is meant to provide a way of reconciling the indominable and non-dominating wills of anarchist uniques, not to deal with domination. It is essentially a response to the idea of a social contract, or of willing subjugation: that, if we actually were in an equal state of nature, “a state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another” (Locke), it would be impossible for there to arise a state that was maintained by authority and domination of its citizens, and the restriction of freedom of association, and which perpetuated static laws that benefit some at the cost of others.

Eternal Social War

The concept of eternal social war is much less problematic, and stands on its own better — after all, it is an idea drawn directly from the pages of Stirner and Novatore, and which has existed within the annals of egoist anarchist thought for a long time — so I’ll spend less time on it. I’ll focus on explaining as succinctly as I can how it relates to my overall goal of eliminating domination, so that I can demonstrate how everything ties back into a coherent whole.

Essentially, the idea is this: as things stand now, it is predominantly one entity in society that exerts its power to the fullest extent — the state, and through it, the capitalist and political classes which have the most time, wealth, and power with which to capture the power of the state. Everyone else, for the most part, acquiesces to the systems, institutions, and laws of the state even as they are dispossessed by them, beaten down and reduced to demoralized wage-slaves, impoverished dependents, abused houseless people, and dehumanized prisoners. Because of a belief in legitimacy that stands outside their personal needs, the people content themselves with voting for minor ameliorations of their pain, but the act of voting is not an act of power against the state, not a statement of “this is what we will accept, and nothing more or less.” It is merely a suggestion, which the state can choose to ignore, because there is no power outside it, no credible threat to it, while we take its legitimacy for granted. When we vote, all we are doing is pleading with our masters to spare us the whip more or give us more crusts of bread — pleading with those who maintain and uphold and benefit from that existing order to voluntarily overturn it out of the kindness of their hearts!

All of this is possible because there is an implicit acceptance of the state — that whatever it does, as long as it is done according to the right “methods” and “through the right channels,” is legitimate and not only irresistible but immoral to resist. This is achieved through mass propegandization to convince the masses that the basic framework of our capitalist society — including its systems of property rights, and the property claims that rest on them and on the state’s historical and ongoing primitive accumulation — are legitimate and should not be questioned, even though they inherently privilege some and harm others. Thus, whenever there is mass resistance of this order, it is labeled as crime, rioting, looting, and roundly condemned or given the cold shoulder by culture as a whole as too radical, too criminal, and too violent. Yet we stand by and watch the ongoing violence of police, both the brutalization that is recognized as such, and the violence necessary to maintain an order that harms so many, and the violence inherent in that order continuing to exist, because — violence when people in funny hats do it is good, but violence in response, in defense, or even in outrage, well, that’s bad!

What happens to this order if we stop taking ideas as sacred? Realize that no moral duty, no law, no value or ideal, no order, no command, can have any hold on us except through our own desires? If we realize that all these things we think have an objective hold on us are baseless, because we only ever have to act according to our own interests, in fact we only ever do so, and that these sacred ideas are merely parts of ourselves, particular interests of ours that have no more real claim on us than any of our other interests, that have been given an alien face and presented to us as if they were not our own, and that through this deception we’ve been tricked into taking an interest of our own and putting it outside ourselves and treating it as more important than our other interests when it doesn’t have to be? That our self-worth has been arbitrarily and illegitimately bound up with these sacred ideas through social indoctrination? If we make all these sacred ideas into just ideas, into our property, by realizing that it is we that give them all their power, and so if they cease to be useful to us, cease to please us, we are can throw them away like trash? What happens if we cease accepting the state and its laws as sacred, the rich and their property as inviolable, and announce a “great, conscienceless crime?” Put our hands on whatever we need, choose to be the judges of what we own, and assert our power as a countervailing force?

If the oppressed reject their oppression and the sacredness of the self-serving rights of their oppressors, what do you expect to happen but a general revolt, an overturning and equalization of society?

If everyone exerts their power to satisfy themselves and claim what they need for their lives, if each person rejects all authority over them and all sacred ideas, and fights tooth and nail for their needs with all their power (be that physical power or the power of being able to provide useful services to others in return for respect, or the power of compelling compassion or respect), what you can expect is the inevitable destruction of authority itself, because it is made untenable.

Lest you think this a war of all against all, consider that there are substantial diminishing returns to attacking one’s neighbor after you have acquired enough for yourself: if you have enough to live well, what does it matter to you how much more they have, as long as it doesn’t directly hurt you? Sure, you could get a little more by stealing from them, but is it really worth it, when they’ll defend themselves and you both have people — perhaps even the same people — who have associated with you to provide for mutual defense? When others may choose not to associate with you anymore? When they might choose not to render you useful services anymore? How often do you really want what your neighbors have enough to deal even with the censure and disapproval they’d direct at you if you just took it? Living in amicable peace, when all needs are met by the assertion of one’s power, and perhaps even sharing what you want that’s theirs, seems like a much better bargain.

This is very different than the class relations which exist today. Compare it with how much you often need and want (if you allow yourself a moment free of sacred ideas to want) what the rich hold over you — sometimes your very own house! And to the degree that the property of the rich is protected by the danger of taking it for yourself outweighing the benefit, that only exists because society as a whole views that property as sacred, and so there aren’t millions willing to struggle with you and lend power to your cause, because it is also beneficial to them.

The point is this: if everyone asserts their power, takes on an aristocratic, godlike view of themselves as a unique individual, and associates with others to amplify their power, they will accept only arrangements that are mutually agreeable to them, instead of accepting as sacred arrangements which grind them to dust, a society that requires subjugation and obedience must surely crumble. To quote Novatore, “all societies tremble when the scornful aristocracy of Vagabonds, Unique ones, Unapproachable ones, rulers over the ideal, and Conquerors of Nothing advance without inhibitions.” Thus, autonomous interests — those that don’t effect you much — are worth leaving alone simply because they’re not worth disputing when the other will resist you over it and it will cause conflict, while dominating interests, which encroach on your affairs and oppress you, are always worth fighting, and so the former will continue unmolested, and the later dissolve, on the whole.

Conclusion

Thus it becomes clear how everything wraps back around to domination and its opposite, freedom. Without that, eternal social war lacks its end, and justice-as-balance lacks both its beginning and end. They would lack what makes me an anarchist in the first place: the fact that I see beauty in my autonomy, and the autonomy of others!

The fact that I am pained when I or others are exploited, dominated, treated as children or subhuman animals who do not deserve the autonomy that would allow them to flourish.

The fact that I want to live in a world where my autonomy is respected, where I have the ability to make my own choices in life in the pursuit of my own fulfillment and self-actualization and, by extension, have control over what I need to preserve my life and make it worth living (at least, as much as possible without making others my slaves) so that others cannot hold me captive to their will and exploit me.

The fact that I want to be able to associate or dissociate according to what pleases me, to extend my power, and come to mutually agreeable, voluntary arrangements with those whose actions effect me — or those whom my actions effect — without outside interference.

The fact, perhaps most importantly for you, that I want this autonomy for everyone else too, because I will never truly be secure in my autonomy until everyone is, and because I love seeing what people choose to do with their lives when freed from exploitation and domination: living is an art, an ongoing process of symphonic improvisation, and I want to see all the glorious symphonies others can produce, all the beautiful and colorful ways they choose to live. The fact that I see the possibility for a wonderful society in such a world, because when people are freed to make choices for themselves, only having to take into account the interests of those who are directly effected, they can solve their problems in a way that is aware of their own unique, particular needs and values, and inclusive of the interests of all without being dominating, and makes use of the detailed tacit knowledge of the domain and local conditions, which would be impossible to communicate to some central planner. In such a society even scientific planning would be nothing to fear, because plans would be organically, fluidly arranged by those who will bear the results of their choices, who are in a position to know where and whether to apply scientific models and how to enrich those models with their own experiences and needs, and how to act on them in a way that is no longer cold and paternalistic.

This is a route to a colorful, vibrant, pluralistic, mutli-hued, textured society, one that is a celebratory kaleidoscope of difference — a chaotic, fluid, always changing society, but one that is beautiful because of that, because the chaos will be gentle chaos. It will be like a bazaar to the liberal-technocratic cathedral.

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