“Spectacles, Testicles, Brandy and Cigars. You are all now Discordian Popes and absolutely infalliable, so don’t take any more crap from anybody.”
Reading The Illuminatus! Trilogy on my plane ride back from Paris after midsummer, I came across a set of political definitions so wonderful that I just couldn’t resist sharing them. And, since I’m secretly a repressed plagiarist, I’ve decided to load up the page with another four fun quotes that I just happened to have laying around. 5 quotes in honor of late, great Robert Anton Wilson. 2 by Bob and 3 by some other random weirdos. Hopefully we’ll be able to melt a few minds with this lot.
FREE MARKET: That condition of society in which all economic transactions result from voluntary choice without coercion.
THE STATE: That institution which interferes with the Free Market through the direct exercise of coercion or the granting of privileges (backed by coercion).
TAX: That form of coercion or interference with the Free Market in which the State collects tribute (the tax), allowing it to hire armed forces to practice coercion in defense of privilege, and also to engage in such wars, adventures, experiments, “reforms”, etc., as it pleases, not at its own cost, but at the cost of “its” subjects.
PRIVILEGE: From the Latin privi , private, and lege , law. An advantage granted by the State and protected by its powers of coercion. A law for private benefit.
USURY: That form of privilege or interference with the Free Market in which one State-supported group monopolizes the coinage and thereby takes tribute (interest), direct or indirect, on all or most economic transactions.
LANDLORDISM: That form of privilege or interference with the Free Market in which one State-supported group “owns” the land and thereby takes tribute (rent) from those who live, work, or produce on the land.
TARRIFF: That form of privilege or interference with the Free Market in which commodities produced outside the State are not allowed to compete equally with those produced inside the State.
CAPITALISM: That organization of society, incorporating elements of tax, usury, landlordism, and tariff, which thus denies the Free Market while pretending to exemplify it.
CONSERVATISM: That school of capitalist philosophy which claims allegiance to the Free Market while actually supporting usury, landlordism, tariff, and sometimes taxation.
LIBERALISM: That school of capitalist philosophy which attempts to correct the injustices of capitalism by adding new laws to the existing laws. Each time conservatives pass a law creating privilege, liberals pass another law modifying privilege, leading conservatives to pass a more subtle law recreating privilege, etc., until “everything not forbidden is compulsory” and “everything not compulsory is forbidden”.
SOCIALISM: The attempted abolition of all privilege by restoring power entirely to the coercive agent behind privilege, the State, thereby converting capitalist oligarchy into Statist monopoly. Whitewashing a wall by painting it black.
ANARCHISM: That organization of society in which the Free Market operates freely, without taxes, usury, landlordism, tariffs, or other forms of coercion or privilege. “Right” anarchists predict that in the Free Market people would voluntarily choose to compete more often than to cooperate; “left” anarchists predict that in the Free Market people would voluntarily choose to cooperate more often than to compete.
Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, The Illuminatus! Trilogy
“Under what circumstances is it moral for a group to do that which is not moral for a member of that group to do alone?”
“Uh…that’s a trick question.”
“It is the key question, dear Wyoming. A radical question that strikes to the root of the whole dilemma of government. Anyone who answers honestly and abides by all consequences knows where he stands-and what he will die for.”
Wyoh frowned. “ ‘Not moral for a member of the group-’ ” she said. “Professor…what are your political principles?”
“May I first ask yours? If you can state them?”
“Certainly I can! I’m a Fifth Internationalist, most of our Organization is. Oh, we don’t rule out anyone going our way; it’s a united front. We have Communists and Fourths and Ruddyites and Societians and Single-Taxers and you name it. But I’m no Marxist; we fifths have a practical program. Private where private belongs, public where its needed, and an admission that circumstances alter cases. Nothing doctrinaire.”
“Let’s say for treason. Against Luna, after you’ve freed Luna.”
“Treason how? Unless I knew the circumstances, I could not decide.”
“Nor could I, dear Wyoming. But I believe in capital punishment under some circumstances…with this difference. I would not ask a court; I would try, condem execute sentence myself and accept full responsibility.”
“But-Professor, what are your political beliefs?”
“I’m a rational anarchist.”
“I don’t know that brand. Anarchist individualist, anarchist Communist, Christian anarchist, philosophical anarchist, syndicalist, libertarian,-those I know. But what’s this? Randite?”
“I can get along with a Randite. A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame . . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world . . . aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.”
Mannie: “Hear, hear!” I said. “‘Less than perfect.’ What I’ve been aiming for all my life.”
“You’ve achieved it,” said Wyoh. “Professor, your words sound good but there is something slippery about them. Too much power in the hands of individuals—surely you would not want . . well, H-missiles for example—to be controlled by one irresponsible person?”
Prof: “My point is that one person is responsible. Always. If H-bombs exist—and they do—some man controls them. In terms of morals there is no such thing as a ‘state.’ Just men. Individuals. Each responsible for his own acts.”
…Wyoh plowed doggedly into Prof, certain that she had all answers. But Prof was interested in questions rather than answers, which baffled her. Finally she said “Professor, I can’t understand you. I don’t insist that you call it ‘government’-I just want you to state what rules you think are necessary to ensure equal freedom for all.”
“Dear lady, I’ll happily accept your rules.”
“But you don’t seem to want any rules.”
“True, but I will accept any rules you feel necessary to your freedom. I am free no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.”
“You would not abide by a law that the majority felt was necessary?”
“Tell me what law, dear lady, and I will tell you whether I will obey it.”
Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
WHAT IS MUTUALISM?
A one-sentence answer is that mutualism consists of people voluntarily banding together for the common purpose of mutual assistance. Clarence Swartz, in What is Mutualism?, defined it this way:
A Social System Based on Equal Freedom, Reciprocity, and the Sovereignty of the Individual Over Himself, His Affairs, and His Products, Realized Through Individual Initiative, Free Contract, Cooperation, Competition, and Voluntary Association for Defense Against the Invasive and for the Protection of Life, Liberty and Property of the Non-invasive.
A character in Ken MacLeod’s The Star Fraction gave a description of socialism that might have come from a mutualist:
…what we always meant by socialism wasn’t something you forced on people, it was people organizing themselves as they pleased into co-ops, collectives, communes, unions…. And if socialism really is better, more efficient than capitalism, then it can bloody well compete with capitalism. So we decided, forget all the statist s**t and the violence: the best place for socialism is the closest to a free market you can get!’
Mutualist.Org: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
“I think the best bet for ourselves and for the human race is to completely ignore the fuckers, hope to fuck that others also ignore them and just go ahead and build the world we want to live in. Let’s create our own world…”
Helene sat down and answered, “easier said than done, but I agree that is what we learn from most of the magical movements of our time. Wiccans say ‘ An it harm none, do what thou wilt.’ In Chaos magic, there’s a slogan ‘Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted,’ which comes from the Arabs I believe.” She took a mouthful of beer before continuing. “In Thelema they say, ‘Do what THOU WILT shall be the whole of the law.’ If the left-wing anarchists could make peace with the right-leaning libertarians…Well, if enough of us set our minds to it and followed our hearts instead of the rules, we could build the world we want to live in and transform the world we were born into. Simple.”
Sean Scullion, Liber Malorum
“Well I sometimes call myself a libertarian but that’s only because most people don’t know what anarchist means. Most people hear you’re an anarchist and they think you’re getting ready to throw a bomb at a building. They don’t understand the concept of voluntary association, the whole concept of replacing force with voluntary cooperation or contractual arrangements and so on. So libertarian is a clearer word that doesn’t arouse any immediate anxiety upon the listener. And then again, libertarians, if they were totally consistent with their principles would be anarchists.”
Robert Anton Wilson
Hail Eris! Viva Loki! All Hail Pope Bob Wilson!