Anarchy Defended from Morals and Dogma

"Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, these three; but the greatest of these is Liberty.” ­– Benjamin Tucker, Liberty Magazine, 1881 
I recently came upon an article titled Spiritual Anarchy and Freemasonry, by Hank Kraychir on his blog Gnosis Masonry. With a compelling title like that I read it with some amount of excitement about what the writer might mean by it. I was immediately disappointed with the thesis but still curious to read it through in order to fully follow the author’s line of reasoning and logic.

When I read the phrase spiritual anarchy, I expected it to have something to do with an individual who is free to pursue their spirituality uninhibited by authority, dogma or punishment. In those terms, I love the concept of a spiritual anarchy. But as I was quick to learn, when the term anarchy is misapplied anything else associated with it falls under the same corruption. I don’t seek to argue from a subjective opinion or preference but from a positioning of historical accuracy.

One could dismiss historical usage of language and assert that a word means whatever consensus has been reached about it through current usage. But I don’t accept that in this case, mainly because the perversion of the word anarchy is such an egregious distortion of intents and purposes carried out as a form of thought suppression. In protest of that suppression of freethinking, I reject Mr. Kraychir’s use of the term and the further perversions he grafts onto it by use of his and others faulty logic.

Anarchism is one of those words. The kind of word that provides an immediate visceral reaction. A word that has been so imbedded with externalized conjecture that it’s safe to assume the original meaning is forever lost. Unless of course it is defended.

So, what is the etymology of the word? I’ve seen it best broken down by the two Greek prefixes, an and archon.
AN -  without; the absence of
ARCHON – master; ruler
Anarchy means no rulers. No Kings. No Lords. No slave masters. By definition, there is absolutely nothing stated about the nonexistence of laws or constraints upon human behavior. The trap that humanity has fallen into is in believing there can be no law or rules of constraint in the absence of a massively complex centralization of authority with weapons of mass destruction to carry out that law.

When anarchism is used as a pejorative, as it often is, the direct implication is towards the notion of chaos, disorder, violence and lawlessness. This disfiguration hardly seems accidental. It’s not clear where these associations began being formulated but I would venture the smear campaign started almost as soon as philosophers issued the first treaties on the topic. An educated person who has taken the time to read the early philosophical tracts would find that the entirety of the ideology rests on the ways and means of peaceful organization and nonviolence achieved outside of the State. There is no hint of suggestion towards bombs or pillaging mobs. That suggestion is a creation of State media and State education. 
“The education we all receive from the State, at school and after, has so warped our minds that the very notion of freedom ends up by being lost, and disguised in servitude. It is a sad sight to see those who believe themselves to be revolutionaries unleashing their hatred on the anarchist just because his views on freedom go beyond their petty and narrow concepts of freedom learned in the State school.” Peter Kropotkin, The State: It’s Historic Role, 1896
Peter Kropotkin

Kraychir’s argument draws largely from the famed 19th Century Scottish Rite Mason, Albert Pike. The first quote issued is an interesting one that makes the claim that anarchism leads to despotism. “What, in fact, is a despot, spiritual or temporal, but a crowned anarchist?” wrote Pike.

This is a rather bizarre notion, as it creates an obvious contradiction of terms. That is, if you understand the proper terms. Let me state it again, an anarchist by definition is an individual who lives in moral opposition to unjust authority. That none should fall under the rulership of another’s will. How then does it follow that such a philosophy drives its adherents into a position of absolute rule?  It’s an impossible logic. A despot surely is one who is motivated by the philosophy of social Darwinism and manifest destiny. Rightly, such a person would be better defined as a fascist. But no, according to Kraychir, underneath the ideals of ultimate liberty and cooperation lies an evil despotism bent on world domination.

In another passage from Pike’s Morals and Dogma, we are instructed, “there is no evil that is not preferable to Anarchy.” Coming from the understanding I have of the true meaning of the word, this passage tells me one thing – that Pike would prefer a system of complete oligarchy and slavery over individual freedom and spontaneous order. No evil worse? Like perhaps the evils of organized genocide propagated by governments? That would be preferable to a free society if we were to embrace his position. (I’d rather give Pike the benefit of the doubt and stricken the word anarchy and replace it with what he might have wished to imply, unfettered chaos. Although he improperly misused the same word numerous times.)

What is this reasoning but a total misappropriation of ideas? Pike is not alone in his faulty argument. We can observe another occult giant, Eliphas Levi, who claimed in the Keys of the Mysteries that, “those two blood-hungered monsters, despotism and anarchy, will tear themselves to pieces, and annihilate each other, after having mutually sustained each other for a little while, by the embrace of their struggle itself.”

I’d like to emphasize once more that anarchy has absolutely nothing whatsoever in common with despotism. The two concepts are in fact polar opposites. Herein lies evidence of the confusion and laziness of misapplication. On the one hand it is argued that anarchy is synonymous with total chaos. On the other it is being said that anarchy is a form of total oligarchy. I’m sorry ladies and gentlemen but this bastardization of ideas can’t be tolerated, even from great minds of the past. 

To clear matters and more fully espouse the true nature of anarchism as a practice, I am well served in referring to a contemporary of Pike, the American writer and lawyer, Lysander Spooner. The following paragraph is taken from his 1882 essay, Natural Law; or The Science of Justice.
“Certainly no man can rightfully be required to join, or support, an association whose protection he does not desire. Nor can any man be reasonably or rightfully expected to join, or support, any association whose plans, or method of proceeding, he does not approve, as likely to accomplish its professed purpose of maintaining justice, and at the same time itself avoid doing injustice. To join, or support, one that would, in his opinion, be inefficient, would be absurd. To join or support one that, in his opinion, would itself do injustice, would be criminal. He must, therefor, be left at the same liberty to join, or not to join, an association for this purpose, as for any other, according to his own interest, discretion, or conscience shall dictate.”
Lysander Spooner
It should be clear based on this statement what the intent of anarchism in fact is. Freedom of association and liberty from forced associations. A society that is not formed on the basis of forced association would become a society of voluntary associations. The liberty to follow ones conscience in making their allegiances is all that is demanded. This, not a violent state of apocalyptic madness, is what anarchy stands for.

We need only look to Masonry itself to understand this principle. Yes, there is a system of rules and a hierarchy of order. But of great principle is the voluntary nature of choice in living by those bonds. A Mason, is a Mason by choice and is free to break that association at anytime. That is an anarchistic relationship defined by the freedom of movement. It is not a form of conscription against one’s will, which characterizes all modern forms of government. A social contract is only valid if it is one made by free choice and selection, not as a byproduct of birth.

Rather than examining his own customs that would reveal a similarity of commitments to liberty, Kraychir would rather make false associations that stir up the greatest of all bogymen, the anti-Christ.

What is the basis of mingling the philosophy of anarchism and the Biblical anti-Christ? He rests his argument of correlation on a punk song by the Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the U.K.  I would argue that Johnny Rotten, like Pike and Levi, wrote based on wishful fantasies that ignore the entire body of scholarly and philosophically sophisticated essays of the 19th Century.

Johnny Rotten
To Kraychir, the anti-Christ symbolizes the rejection of Christianity as a source of spiritual authority and therefor sits nicely alongside a rejection of political authority. He equates both rejections to the evils and moral decay of postmodernism. Admittedly, early anarchists like Emma Goldman were also atheists and therefor rejected the authority of the Church. Spooner was a Deist. Leo Tolstoy was a Christian. Anarchists as a whole can’t be uniformly in agreement on any tenet outside of the commitment to uncoerced self-determination. Surely there are anarchists among all the active faiths in the world.   

The words attributed to Jesus himself in the Sermon on the Mount have influenced many within the Christian tradition to honor his commitment to nonviolence to its logical end – opposition to militaristic governments responsible for more carnage and genocide than can ever be calculated.
“The gospels tell of Jesus' temptation in the desert. For the final temptation, Jesus is taken up to a high mountain by Satan and told that if he bows down to Satan he will give him all the kingdoms of the world. Christian anarchists use this as evidence that all Earthly kingdoms and governments are ruled by Satan, otherwise they would not be Satan's to give. Jesus refuses the temptation, choosing to serve God instead, implying that Jesus is aware of the corrupting nature of Earthly power.”Alexandre Christoyannopoulos, Christian Anarchism: A Political Commentary on the Gospel.
The Sermon on the Mount  
Returning to Kraychir’s opposition to postmodernism, we see an argument made from a fear of change and a clinging to the past. The fear illustrated in his article is that the cancer of postmodernism is tearing apart not only Freemasonry, but the very fabric of society. Whether we chose to see recent societal developments as progressive or regressive is another line of argumentation that exceeds the point here.

There may be many agreements Kraychir and I might reach in identifying displeasing new customs prevailing over ancient ones. I for one hold the old customs and teachings of the Mystery Schools in the highest esteem. The most ancient of customs would surely look much more like the communities anarchists suggest then the contemporary reverence for conformity and obedience that so-called Traditionalists pine away for.

I see nothing in conflict with the principles of Freemasonry and an individual who chooses to make the Divine source of light his only authority by which to live. The same individual can serve the community of his brothers and sisters enthusiastically without any sort of emotional commitments to officials or Kings, who officiate not by God’s Law or Natural Law, but by a perversion of manmade laws.

“Freemasonry teaches structure, not Anarchy; social cohesion, not disorder,” says Kraychir.

In this statement alone, the flaw is exposed. Anarchy is a doctrine of cohesion and structure but finds its base in reason and cooperation, not militarism and structural domination. There is no morality in structure that operates without choice or that suppresses the individual will.

Kraychir claims that “subordination to legitimate authority–government” is at the heart of Masonry. I ask Kraychir to have a look around, principally over the span of the last 100 years and identify the legitimacy of this god-like authority, whose true record is one of murder, theft, dishonor, racism, suppression, invasion of privacy, imperialism, police militarization and much else. Is that his idea of a Divine authority to which the true Freemason is obedient? Is the sham of rigged elections between highly placed elitists to high finance and war his idea of legitimate authority? A Freemason most certainly is bound to an oath of justice. It is the anarchist belief that Natural Law is the only law that man must observe to achieve that justice.

I leave you with a quote penned by the first self-proclaimed anarchist, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, in which he cites the true origin and birth of all righteous and moral order.
“Liberty is not the daughter but the mother of order.”

VHS < RWD "Street Trash"

Oh, my God. Dear Lord. How can I seriously review Street Trash? This is the type of post the calls to question any of the serious writing I try to do. That being said, I'm an unapologetic horror fan and will be until the day I die. Sometimes that commitment takes you into a really bad part of the neighborhood, miles and miles from the nearest "psychological-thriller" that respectable film-buffs love to name drop.

I can start by saying that Street Trash features almost every form of depravity imaginable.  Director, Jim Muro and crew obviously set out to make something within the horror/comedy genre that closely resembles a Tromaville production. The fact that Troma had nothing to do with the making of this amazed me.

Quite simply, if you enjoy schlocky bloodbaths like, Class of Nuke’m High and The Toxic Avenger, you’ll certainly love this. If you don’t veer in that direction, I can’t possibly see what there is to enjoy otherwise. Horrible acting, totally nonsensical plot development, repeated offenses against humanity, etc. This is a pure, unadulterated gross-out fest. 

But if you’re like me, you can excuse it all, given the pure entertainment value of it all. Actually, enjoying this film makes me realize how twisted I must be. The average movie-watching citizen would watch this film and scream in agony. Me? I’m laughingThat being my ass off 70 out of 90 minutes. I’m sick, that’s what I am. And so were the people involved with making this slab of filth.
This film actually stands as a clear barometer on a persons mental health. The scales of sanity tipping in reflection of how much enjoyment or repulsion is experienced.

As mentioned, the “plot” is here is pretty incoherent. The main premise is supposed to be about a 60-year-old case of liquor pints that make people melt and/or explode upon ingestion. That basic idea is fine I guess, and from a horror stand point it provides the only real horrific scenes to justifiably label it as such at all. Aside from that, the movie documents the pathetic comings and goings of drunken, derelict bums each covered by a literal sheet of dirt and scum. The local liquor shop begins selling off the discovered “Viper” booze at liquidation price, setting off a chain of homeless deaths. (This is just a very decidedly un-PC piece of filmmaking. Utterly unconcerned with any form of decency.) 

A painfully overacted role of tough guy cop is introduced to investigate the deaths. There’s all these bizarre human relationship subplots taking place amongst the bums centered around their dwellings of the scrap-heap junkyard. There’s a crazy Nam-vet that is either having flashbacks about killing people or he is actually killing people in the present – mostly other vagrants from the junkyard. Somewhere along the line a gangster/nightclub owner gets involved. Then there’s the owner of the yard and his assistant who tries to aid the people living on the premises. It’s all a little much when you just want to see the incredible melting F/X at work. How they managed to shoe-horn in romantic interests amazed me. You feel so f’n filthy watching the proceedings, the last thing you want the characters to do is get it on – but they do.  

If the intent of this film was to offend and disgust, you can chalk this one up as a huge success. It probably sets a high bar, rarely met even by exploration standards. 

Anyway, there’s a couple great body melting scenes on the front end that caught my attention but unfortunately that was followed by a 45-minute dry spell where the ridiculous “character building” develops. I was close to giving up when the kills started rolling in again to provide quite a strong finish. The drunks get thirsty and vengeful and the melting gets serious. I loved the way they introduced a rainbow of colors to ooze out of the Viper victims instead of simple blood and guts alone. The F/X crew are the real stars that made the production worthwhile. Created on a shoestring budget and not entirely perfect, the practical effects are very cool to watch if you understand the craftsmanship involved. Watch this one drunk or sober, preferably in a crowd for maximum laughs. That is if you can find anyone deranged enough to join you.

Hats off to the creators for pushing gore to the limit, in addition to shamelessly bizarre hilarity. You dirty, rotten, scoundrels. 

Rekindling an Archetype: DIY Knighting

King Arthur and Sir Lancelot, William Morris 

My son recently turned eight and I decided it was time to knight him. No, seriously. So much of the studying of culture and mythology that I’ve been immersed in has brought the deep loss of rites of passage to my attention. With so much early developmental mind mapping coming from technology and television, I’m doing as much as I can to introduce ancient and classical myths orally and experientially. I would like birthdays in my family to be symbolically marked by more than a stack of material gifts. This year, largely inspired by my own personal commitment to reeducation in myth and meaning, I broke tradition to initiate a new tradition.

To be clear, I myself am not a knight of any official capacity whatsoever. Not many are after all. So, what made me feel able to perform such a ceremony? Well, I’m his damn father for starters. Secondly, I realized on the day, if not me, who else? The answer was obvious. The inspiration was sudden and came on the back of a week of my own contemplation of the loss of Rite of Passage rituals in our contemporary culture.

This largely unnoticed phenomena struck me as simply unacceptable and I sought the best remedy as I could come up with on short notice. The circumstances that brought about this mode of thinking started with a viewing of the 1981 (the year of my birth) film, Excalibur. The fantastical Hollywood rendition of the classic King Arthur story served as a lightning rod for my own remembrance of youth and the necessity of heroic myths. Without knowing from where or how they came to me, the Arthurian legends reemerged from a deep recess of my imagination. Not having considered him in decades, there he was again, like an old friend.

My head began swimming through what it all meant. After a refresher of the outline of Arthur’s life and his symbolic tales, the concept of the knight archetype surfaced as key to his meaning. The resonance of the Arthur legends magnify with the presence of the noble Knights of the Roundtable. Here we have not merely the individualistic themes of strength, bravery and honesty but the collective commitments to brotherhood, honor and loyalty.

There was an urgent call to reset the principles of the chivalrous knight back into my own life. Not so much that these codes had no base in my life, but more to identify which ones held the firmest and which needed further crafting. I saw that in my own study of the Mystery School traditions of old as well as my physical dedication to the martial arts, the principles of the knights were not far from my day-to-day life.

The Knights of the Round Table 

At the point of identifying with the knight, this invaluable tool of rekindling strong symbols and archetypes as a source of motivation, charged forth. We all are instructed to some degree by an inherited set of values and morals to live by. But words are just words. When expressed in the most visually dramatic form conceivable, words spring into life. I think of this as embodiment. When words are grafted onto actions in the world, be they in the manifest world or the world of imagination, this is where inspiration finds it’s footing. When ethical principles speak to us through the deeds of the hero, visualization and mirroring can do their transformative work.

The instructive lessons encoded into the hero tales of every culture serve a critical purpose in animating the minds of the young and impressionable with active illustrations of what it looks like to live by principle. Heroes are called into action, sometimes willingly, other times, unwillingly. But act they do, and by embodying bravery, determination and honor, they achieve their mythic status.

It appears that these tales have been with us since the dawn of civilization. Instead of boring lectures filled with “must” and “shall not,” someone got the bright idea to occult these teachings into super-hero stories. Carl Jung would hold that this impulse is born out of the Collective Unconscious. According to his theory, we are all born with encoded archetypes – in this case, the hero. Because this figure already exists within us, it’s only a matter of activating its symbolism through words and images.
“The archetype — let us never forget this — is a psychic organ present in all of us. A bad explanation means a correspondingly bad attitude toward this organ, which may thus be injured. But the ultimate sufferer is the bad interpreter himself.”
― Carl Jung, The Psychology of the Child Archetype
Over time, the figure of the archetype is reborn and outfitted to suit the day at hand. Convinced as I am of the importance of continuing to revitalize these vessels of truth, I began wondering who today’s heroes are. Multi-million dollar pro-athletes? Spoiled and extravagant pop culture stars? Computer generated video game characters? With the increased psychological complexity and angst of Hollywood renditions of classic comic book characters, I’m still left looking back for a purer standard.

More troubling than the subjective suitability of contemporary examples of nobility in action, was the utter lack of meaningful symbolic ceremonies. Speaking as an American, I can say that we are a culture poor in powerful Rites of Passage. I’m sorry to say Sweet Sixteen birthdays and the first drink of alcohol fail to live up to my idea of an inspired demarcation. High school and college graduations are events to be endured with boredom. What else is there? A hazing given in a Fraternity or Sorority? The thought of my upbringing and the future of my children’s suddenly became depressing. Sometimes it takes a negative to motivate a positive.

The Black Knight

With a little bit of heroic thinking, I realized there’s something I could do to fill the void. If I want my son to have rituals for marking his growth and development into manhood, it was up to me to create them. To resurrect the image of the knight out of the distant past, obscured by a culture of superficiality and consumerism, I had to step forward and take up my rightful duty. 
“This is the oath of a Knight of King Arthur's Round Table and should be for all of us to take to heart. I will develop my life for the greater good. I will place character above riches, and concern for others above personal wealth, I will never boast, but cherish humility instead, I will speak the truth at all times, and forever keep my word, I will defend those who cannot defend themselves, I will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its guises, I will uphold justice by being fair to all, I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship, I will abhor scandals and gossip-neither partake nor delight in them, I will be generous to the poor and to those who need help, I will forgive when asked, that my own mistakes will be forgiven, I will live my life with courtesy and honor from this day forward.” 
King Arthur, Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table

For further study of the knight, a thorough consultation of the Tarot brings nearly every aspect of the persona to bear. Anyone with a basic knowledge of the symbolic cards would be familiar with the Royal cards associated with each of the four suits. The Knight cards signify energetic action, freedom and fiery purpose. The sons of the Kings and Queens, and the older sibling to the Pages, the Knights have been prepared well and are expected to seek out their destiny and claim it.

Rider-Waite Tarot
“The Four Knights represent exuberance, the first taste of power, real freedom andthe ultimate defining stage of the young to mid adult years of the CourtCards. Their energy is masculine (females can also be represented by a Knight) excitable, infectious and outward. Full of ideas and promise, TheKnights are determined to make their mark. However, they are just findingtheir way in the world and are prone to making mistakes.”  
– Vivien Ní Dhuinn, Truly Teach me Tarot: The Knights Intro
My intent wasn’t to send my son out into the world to slay dragons at this stage but more so to initiate a role-playing towards future knighthood. And so, with a few simple props on hand, I constructed a simple knighting ritual. In the ceremonies of old, the initiate wore white to symbolize their innocence and purity. At the time there was nothing better than his karate gi, white for the exact same reason. I too, dressed in my own karate uniform. Because I have my own spiritual rituals and commitments, an altar was already dressed for the occasion. Also to my luck was the availability of historical oaths of knighthood, easily found on the Internet. With my references, I wrote up what I felt would be an appropriate oath for an eight-year-old to understand.

It goes without saying that a proper knighting ceremony requires a sacred sword to tap the shoulders of the boy, officially dubbing him as a knight in training. While not a full-length sword, I used a long knife that adequately fulfilled our purposes. With the addition of sage for a simple purification, I had everything I needed to carry out my vision.

Henry Clarence White's Arthur in the Gruesome Glen

The timely urgency to mark this birthday made all the more sense when my research turned up the fact that back in the day, the making of a true knight happened in three stages. The first occurred at the age of seven or eight and was coined the Page phase. This initial stage was meant to instill the fundamental elements of obedience and courtesy, laying the groundwork for further instruction.

The second stage would have been marked between the ages of 12 and 14, sending the adolescent into the phase of the Squire. This period could be compared to an apprenticeship, in which the trainee was required to take on more responsibility, like care of the knight’s weapons and observance of other tasks. If the acolyte had proven themselves competent and dutiful by the age of 21, they became eligible for the conferring of full Knighthood.

The biggest obstacle I faced was to get my precocious son to agree to actually participate in this odd thing I sprung on him out of nowhere. At eight, his trust in his father was still fairly intact and he very curiously agreed. The production itself took no more than five or six minutes. Considering my lack of experience in the matter, I was satisfied with simply having accomplished the task.

From Boy's King Arthur, N.C. Wyth

How much he understood the event or what if any impact it had on him, I can’t claim to know. Having previously involved him in the Boy Scouts as well as karate training, the concepts we talked about were not totally foreign to him. If nothing else I reinforced ideals in a new, creative way. The most important thing, for me, if not for him, was that it was a personal moment for only the two of us. I got to own a moment and take personal responsibility for setting the standard and example of what knighthood was all about.

In a society of increasingly absent fathers and a disregard for the ancient mystery teachings, I took an oath towards the achievement of knighthood on that day right along with him. The time to reignite the guiding myths of old is now. The place to look for permission to do so, is within each and every one of us. The call to adventure is our birthright – may our bravery not fail us.
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