by Kerry Thornley
Zenarchy - Chapter 6
The No Politics
Potential dangers exist in Yin Revolution. Without a comprehensive overview of its extent we cannot estimate success or failure. In one sense that makes it like Hopi basketball, and yet ignorance is never a good thing. Yin Revolution is essentially nonconfrontive; confrontation makes for communication with the so-called enemy and such communication sometimes resolves the problem. A minority of those who become free may not have attended sufficiently their own Subjective Liberation and, like the Pilgrims who settled New England, might quickly turn around and begin oppressing others. Without any consensus whatever, Parallel Communications could degenerate into a form of technocratic feudalism complete with wizards and warlords - something that is already more prevalent than is widely acknowledged.
Today we are nearing the possibility of winding up in a world like the nightmare reported by Gary Snyder in Earth House Hold: "--dreamed of a new industrial-age dark ages: filthy narrow streets and dirty buildings with rickety walks over the streets from building to building - unwashed illiterate brutal cops - a motorcycle cop and a sidecar drove up over a fat workingman who got knocked down in a fight - tin cans and garbage and drooping electric wires everywhere --".
Widespread Economic Independence will of course militate against such a trend. But only a high degree of voluntary social cohesion will prevent it or something worse - like sanitary but sterile totalitarian regulation - from afflicting the bulk of humanity.
Zenarchy is the art of steadfastly failing to provide political leadership and, by having as little to do with political power as possible, thereby transforming the empire. For the spirit of freedom is the fundamental ordering principle of the whole universe. Chaung Tzu chronicles the history of sages who refused the throne. Superior people understand that in forsaking the chance to administer a kingdom they can sometimes foster the values of an age.
In the Age of Perfect Peace the True People of Old lived in harmony equal to the rhythm of the seasons and the ebb and flow of tidal cycles. With no concept of law and order, they lacked occasion for crime and turmoil.
Likewise: enjoying the resources of a kingdom, Prince Siddartha could not attain tranquility; fasting and mortifications also failed to bring serenity; sitting under a tree and doing nothing though, he was taken by Buddhahood.
"From one standpoint, governments, wars, or all that we consider 'evil' are uncompromisingly contained in this totalistic realm," says Gary Snyder of Buddhahood. "The hawk, the swoop and the hare are one. From the 'human' standpoint we cannot live in those terms unless all beings see with the same enlightened eye. The Bodhisattva lives by the sufferer's standard," because of a compassionate nature, "and he must be effective in aiding those who suffer," according to "Buddhism and the Coming Revolution" in Earth House Hold.
Peter Kropotkin once observed that, "Throughout the history of our civilization, two traditions, two opposed tendencies, have been in conflict: the Roman tradition and the popular tradition, the imperial tradition and the federalist tradition, the authoritarian tradition and the libertarian tradition."
Tao Is Where You Find It
Old George Boardman was an instructor at Robert LeFevre's libertarian Freedom School in Larkspur, Colorado, where I was a student in 1964.
Most of the time Boardman lived in a ghost town called Chloride, Arizona, population: 250. No government was present there at that time, not even as a figment of its own imagination.
As for crimes against person or property, the most recent one was committed five years earlier by some Californians who were passing through. No crimes with victims occurred, said George Boardman, because there were no police to protect criminals from a watchful populace.
George wrote a regular column for the Santa Ana Register recounting his adventures in Chloride and setting forth his wise, usually slightly cranky or downright stubborn views of various issues. In 1969 he passed away and I wrote him a tribute that was published in the Register.
That man could cause an Orange County, California, Bircher to see the contradiction between "law" and "order" without ever feeling his mind had been changed about politics. In Zen, such tactful persuasion is called upaya, the "gentle method". And though Boardman's rhetoric was conservative, his philosophy was both humorous and - well, I hesitate to say "radical". For once he said, "I'm not an anarchist nor a libertarian, or anything else. I'm George Boardman - and I don't want to be held responsible for anyone's views but my own".
In a discussion of Natural Law, the philosophical basis of early American conceptions of liberty, Henry B. Veatch (in an article, "Natural Law: Dead or Alive?" in Literature of Liberty, October-December 1978) writes: "What, though, is this doctrine of so-called 'natural law', that thus had such a long and chequered career, and has even displayed, in the words of more than one authority, the happy faculty of repeatedly being able to bury its own undertakers!"
So it was also with a doctrine called 'tao' which buried its Indian Buddhist missionary undertakers in China by way of a Taoistic response called Ch'an Buddhism that Japanese pronounce as Zen. For when the emperor became a Buddhist, many Taoists joined and influenced the Ch'an sect of that religion rather than loudly resisting its attempts to convert the empire. That is why in Zen today we hear so much about the Tao. For the Ch'an Buddhists did a better job of preserving the spirit of the philosophy of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu than did the formally Taoist religion which, instead, degenerated into fortune telling and other superstitions.
A similarity in content between Natural Law philosophy and the original Taoism preserved in Zen is uncanny. Both consist of the same common-sense observations about human be-ing in accord with nature and uphold the notion that laws of nature also apply to society. Yet neither view much resembles Social Darwinism, which also claimed to derive its principles from the natural world.
Speaking of Natural Law in the ancient world of the West editor Leonard Liggio comments elsewhere in Literature of Liberty: "The Stoics posited an identification of physics and nomos, nature and law. The wise man lived in harmony with nature; he was not dragged in the train of events." What is that but following the Tao?
Veatch also says in "Natural Law: Dead or Alive?" that the views of Natural Law held by Thomas Aquinas did not go far enough. "But why not," Veatch asks, "consider ethics and politics, as construed in the light of this conception of natural law, an analogous to certain arts, skills, and crafts? Why does the skilled surgeon, for instance make his incision in one way rather than another?"
Exactly the same point is made about an ox butcher in one of the parables of Chaung Tzu. Why make an incision one way instead of another? Following the Tao, an expert butcher cuts between the joints and thus never has to sharpen his blade. Although a good surgeon is anything but a butcher, incisions must just the same be made one way and not another. This fact can be generalized to all reasonable human activity, including construction of social arrangements. So we see there are rights, or naturally right ways to behave, ways of the Tao, that take conditions into consideration, as well as ecology and sociology. Therefore it is possible with common sense to distinguish between natural ethics that work and unnatural moralities that eventually only produce widespread misery.
If Tao is not Natural Law or, in other words, if Natural Law is not Tao independently discovered by Western philosophers, then what is the difference between them? Alan Watts says in Psychotherapy East and West: "The whole literature of Taoism shows a deep and intelligent interest in the patterns and processes of the natural world and a desire to model human life upon the observable principles of nature as distinct from the arbitrary principles of a social order resting upon violence." That is exactly the project of Natural Law philosophy!
Seize the Timeless!
Zenarchy is the politics of the mind emptied of useless anticipation. Principles are seen as tools for making decisions when inspiration fails or prolonged deliberation is impossible. Ideology and analysis are only seen as preparation. For naked awareness characterizes the moment of clear and perfect action.
Preaching is ineffectual and neither cute ideas nor a quick wit will carry anyone through this "gateless gate". Everything is good in its own time and therefore must be taken in terms of context. Yet when the moment inviting a wholehearted response appears, the learned is relegated to the unconscious and obstacles to pure perception are obliterated. That way, we are open to the unexpected.
Actor and action unite.
Why the Heathen Rage
Among certain varieties of ants there is a worker who spends her whole life clinging to the ceiling of a tunnel serving as a storage tank for nectar gathered by workers of other occupations. Among ants this is Tao. Among people it is called being valuable to society.
As long as we think of the individual as something society needs, we will not evolve any higher than the ants. Society - like food, clothing and shelter - is something the individual human being needs. Society exists for the sake of the individual. As Laughing Buddha Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." No person rightfully lives entirely for the sake of society.
When anyone is used for the sake of society - conscripted, enslaved or sacrificed - society has ceased to function as intended. Instead, it has become a system of social arrangement that oppresses, rather than serves, those who comprise it. In accord with Natural Law, the Declaration of Independence says any system like that is to be altered or abolished.
Pointing to a gnarled tree no woodsman had cut for lumber, Chaung Tzu says, "Everyone understands the value of usefulness. But how many perceive the value of being useless?"
Sometimes it is valuable to everyone to be useless to society.
If you permit society to oppress you then it will oppress others and the result will be decadence and cynicism. Eventually "society" will become a blood-thirsty god with a will of its own that acts contrary to the will of its participants.
The extent to which society is kept firmly in the service of all individuals is the measure of how much it is performing its function: safeguarding basic rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.
Healthy societies always find defenders and supporters in time of crisis. They need not rely on taxation or wage slavery to endure. At Valley Forge there were no draftees.
Voluntarily supported societies earn that support, and as long as they remain voluntary there is an added check upon the system. Volunterism leads not to the collapse of order, but to its renewal.
Societies - systems of social arrangements, not collections of people - command enormous material and creative resources. When their survival as social organizations depend on it, they can usually be counted on to place these resources at the service of their participants. So there is seldom danger of societies collapsing.
Only when individuals collapse - one at a time, first here and then there - does social order then also eventually decay. Through the collapse of human beings - a Wilhelm Reich here, a Lenny Bruce there, a Janis Joplin elsewhere - the social order begins to crack and heave, edging toward ruin.
Sacrifice never was and can never become a viable principle of social construction. On the contrary, it is called for only in life-boat situations - emergencies or "worst cases" - never in peaceful day-to-day living. And, of course, voluntary self-sacrifice, resulting from natural compassion, is neither uncommon nor oppressive.
A wholly sacrificial society, however, is totalitarian and despotic. Systems like that appear strong for awhile. Internally, though, they are weak and ridden with contradictions - because, within them, human needs run contrary to social demands at every turn. "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
A voluntary society - based literally upon the teachings of Jesus and other great sages, including the philosophers of Natural Law - is more than possible. Only when large numbers of individuals cherish and pursue that end does it become a reality, though - when, in universal enlightenment everyone says together: "Off our backs!"
So the heathen rage because they have dreamed a dream. This dream comes not to those who are sleeping, but to all who remain fiercely awake. And the heathen rage because they must live with that dream and also with what is their lot under imperialism.
We Zenarchists seldom call ourselves Christians or Buddhists, for that would make us useful to organized religion. And for the same reason we call our politics The No Politics - to avoid becoming useful to politicians.
Validation: A Stoned Sermon
Cultures that validate their elders possess wise old people; cultures that invalidate them have senile old ones.
Cultures that validate sexuality enjoy clean, healthy and beautiful erotic play; societies that invalidate it have dirty, exploitive commercial smut.
Societies that validate women possess strong, serene and intelligent females; societies that invalidate them suffer dumb broads and bitches.
Societies that validate children possess cheerful, wise and responsible youth; societies that invalidate them end up with delinquents and brats.
A culture that validates its ethnic minorities boasts of rich pockets of exotic cultural variety; a society that invalidates them is divided between drab suburbs on one hand and filthy ghettos on the other.
Validation is not automatic agreement with someone you think is wrong. All forms of flattery are deceptive and, hence, invalidating.
Validation is treating someone with a respect that assumes that if they are given enough information, they'll use it with their minds. Conversely, if someone is acting weird or pissed off or self-destructive, validating attitudes assume there is a reason. Usually such people are oppressed. A validating approach assumes that if everyone will just get off their backs not many will have to help them.
A derivative of Natural Law in our legal system is the assumption of innocence until guilt is proven. When, as individuals, we keep that much in mind while at the same time searching for the reasons for offensive behavior, then our attitude toward others is validation. The opposite view assumes that everyone is a social invalid until they prove they aren't. That is why so-called law and order attitudes are frequently coupled with racism and sexism. Assumptions about others are important because our expectations often mold their response.
Suchness in Action: The No Politics
An art of Zenarchy consist of saying "No!" or "I won't" to oppression. As the active ingredient of the strike, it becomes a potent factor when a critical mass of rebels transform "I won't" into "We won't".
Other policies rigidly and aggressively attack the opposition. No Politics heeds the advice of Chairman Lao to "always be on the defensive at first". A good offense is not the best defense; the best defense is no offense at all.
Recognizing the utility of conscious inaction, of refusal, is mindful of the humanity of the so-called enemy. Struggle aimed at complete annihilation is alien to the Zenarchist spirit. Victories in battle are celebrated with tears of mourning.
A "willow tree" mentality that avoids ideological constipation is possible through the Zen knack of seeing the "suchness" of things. They are so much what they are. So are people. Every person does a perfect job of being that particular individual and no other. So living, changable and surprising humanity takes precedence over the urgency of winning at all costs each and every contest. For the one is a territory of flesh and blood; the other is only based on our map of who is friend or foe.
Great is the mind kept forever sharper than the sword. Reading the Tao Teh of Lao Tzu is useful in absorbing this style of struggle that emphasizes a mood of restraint, with conscious and decisive action at crucial moments.
Vital Organs of Human Liberty
Principles are tools for thinking. Useful especially for keeping in mind the overall context relating to every decision, they are not to be confused with the specific sensory data of thought.
Without attending to all the sources of oppression, we cannot hope that our Yin Revolution will become popular with all oppressed people. And without principles pertaining to those sources of oppression we cannot assure that in liberating in one area we'll not become oppressors ourselves in another.
That PRISONS BREED CRIME is the First Principle of The No Politics of Zenarchy. Penal systems are vast chains of universities in criminal activity. Harsh punishments reinforce hostility and alienation so as to provide additional motives for antisocial behavior. As we begin to research alternatives to retribution in history and anthropology it quickly becomes obvious that a more reasonable approach is to insist on restitution from those who commit crimes with victims. This can be enforced when necessary by community refusal to cooperate with unrepentant transgressors. How effective such a method could be is indicated by A.S. Neill in Summerhill and by Eric Frank Russell in the closing chapters of The Great Explosion. Law by contract and enforcement by strike is one viable alternative to unilateral coercive law and chaos. We endeavor to educate the populace toward a Permanent Universal Abolition of Retribution, resulting in Government by Strike and Not by Gun. As for the incurable psychopath who goes around murdering people and continues to make the scene through unstinting looting? Whoever shot that individual would receive a common-sense public hearing for the purpose of determining the facts. Even our present system recognizes the defense of "justifiable homicide".
Although Big Brother said the opposite, IGNORANCE IS SLAVERY. That is our Second Principle. If secrecy were national security, you could vote with your eyes shut and save freedom. Democracies that keep their citizens in the dark are democratic in name only. That corporations are entitled to conduct business in an atmosphere of confidentiality is the result of superstition. Unlike acts in the bedroom, which all misdirected communities try to control, corporate decisions affect everyone in society. Timothy Leary's battle cry of No More Secrets inspires us to see ten thousand ways to bring about the Permanent Universal Abolition of Institutional Secrecy everywhere in the world.
IT AIN'T THE LANDLORD; IT'S THE RENT is our Third Principle. No rational system of land tenure would require inhabitants of this planet to pay fees for the dubious privilege of living here. Even if for the sake of argument we grant validity to first claim theory, then the whole Western Hemisphere belongs to Native American Indians. And their system of land tenure was based upon occupancy and use. Either one was enough to insure ownership. Uninhabited and unused land, in cases where both conditions prevailed, was up for grabs. Evidence indicates the ancient natives of Europe maintained a similar system, and in common law there is such a thing as squatters' rights. Lords and ladies of the land, as the names imply, are feudal traditions. Pollution is profitable and fifteen million people starve to death every year due to absentee landlordism more than to any other single cause. Neither agri-business nor collective farms offer quality, speedy solutions to those problems since, among other things, they use petro-chemical fertilizers. To protest ground rents and the oppression that makes them thinkable, we Zenarchists believe in chanting and writing as often as possible this powerful mantra: Permanent Universal Rent Strike. Hopefully, that will stimulate a nonviolent transformation in the direction of Ecological and Equitable Use of Land and Natural Resources.
Since MONEY IS ONLY A SYMBOL to keep track of exchanges in goods and services or labor, that is our Fourth Principle. No clique of bankers in conspiracy with any government possesses the right to declare that we must accept for all debts only this or that form of currency in payment. When all retain the right to reject payment in symbols of value that are not trusted, then Gresham's Law functions in reverse and we call it Mahserg's Law. The good money drives out the bad. That way the free market assures that the money supply will not exceed the value of available goods and labor, so inflation becomes impossible. Zenarchists advocate you Make Good Money in Your Spare Time by issuing your own certificates of value or cheques, redemptive in your wealth in goods and services. If everyone did this, we would have something like a Direct Barter Free Credit Economy, where money is a convenient symbol of credit and nothing more. Alan Watts discusses a similar idea in "Wealth Versus Money" in Does it Matter? Last but not least, liberated money is an important issue because the multinational central banking corporations organized just before World War I are almost certainly to blame for contributing to wars and violent social unrest. Without the threat of such tragedies - made possible by extending credit for the purchase of arms - the bankers would possess no means of enforcing collection of interest payments on national debts from governments.
That ABSENTEE CONTROL OF THE WORKPLACE IS THE ROOT OF ALL OPPRESSION (or at least most of it) is the Fifth Principle. Because of private credit monopolies and regulated currency it is, under the present system, usually necessary to borrow money (called investments) for tools (called capital). Interest payments (called dividends) are made on these capital investments. We advocate a pluralistic free market economy and therefore support both communist anarchist struggles for industrial democracy and the libertarian rightist goal of small-business laissez-faire. In a free society, where people can issue their own money backed with collateral or credit instead of having to obtain loans or investments, both communism and the free market are possible. In order to abolish absentee bossism Zenarchy calls for a Permanent Universal Absentee Boss Lock Out and the Complete Deregulation of Nonabsentee Entrepre-neurs. We seek to combine the working class and the petty bourgeoisie in a powerful surge against both cartel capitalism and statist socialism.
As Zenarchists and Yin Revolutionaries we believe it makes sense to RESIST ALL FORMS OF COERCIVE AUTHORITY and that is our Sixth Principle. To advance it, we repeat the mantra, Permanent Universal Tax Strike. We further seek to probe all cryptocratic methods of extortion so as to bring about Exposure of All Forms of Conscription, for human slavery is alive and well in the intelligence community. Foreign-born and second generation Americans are extorted by intelligence bureaucracies that threaten to kill or injure their kin in the old country. Technocratic methods of surveillance and death-threat extortion also exist, ranging from artificial induction of cancer to halting Pacemakers with micro-waves when orders are disobeyed, using miniature observation devices to detect the least gesture of rebellion. As Zenarchists we also oppose the temporary and more humane type of slavery called military conscription, for no country that remains worth fighting for need rely on a draft. Another coercive institution we oppose is the trade tariff for it is an old saying in economics that where goods do not cross borders, soldiers do.
LIBERATION IS FOR EVERYBODY and this is our Seventh Principle. We oppose racism, sexism and the persecution of intellectual minorities (including even bigots who abstain from force). Zenarchists want Permanent Universal Cultural Autonomy by means of Self-Selecting Intentional Neighborhoods made possible by communitarian computer matching services. Further, we endeavor always to raise consciousness against discrimination that dehumanizes any individual human being.
TRANSISTORIZED UNTOUCHABLES EXIST. Our Eighth Principle pertains to a humanoid robot caste among us that authoritarian technocrats are creating at this time, although not much is said about it in the media. As incredible as it may seem, subcutaneous brain-wave transmitters and cranial silicone chips and ultra-high frequency sound wave projectors are already developed and in use for manipulating the minds of human beings. As Walter Bowart writes in Operation Mind Control: "Although the first victims of Operation Mind Control were perhaps especially suitable personality types for such use, with the advances being made in the psycho-sciences all but a few of us may eventually be victimized."
An examination of the bibliography of Bowart's book will convince the average skeptic that sophisticated mind manipulation is not a paranoid fantasy. The notion that reflex conditioning of any kind will create order instead of a social nightmare is based upon an unexamined Behaviorist assumption. For individuals cannot unilaterally manipulate beings of approximately equal intelligence; counter-manipulation comes into play. Unlike laboratory mice, human beings imitate their manipulators instead of responding to them mechanistically. We begin to resemble our oppressors. Try to condition a child with B.F. Skinner's techniques, for example, and that individual will become a wheeler-dealer, not an obedient servant. That is why the Taoist sages said that the more punishments and promotions there are, the more turmoil there is. When everyone tries to control everyone else - and that is what happens when one group tries to manipulate another - all society becomes a howling madhouse. We therefore call upon everyone to Defeat the Behaviorist Technocracy by means of Exposure and Dismantling of All Sleeper Agent Projects, as they are often called. When scientists gain political power, warned the anarchist Bakunin, they can be expected to treat their fellow humans just as they treat rats and mice in laboratory experiments. In that, as in most other things, Michael Bakunin has proven prophetic.
Moreover, in all systems of domination of one human by another communications snarl because EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION IS ONLY POSSIBLE BETWEEN EQUALS. That is called the S.N.A.F.U. Principle and it is our Ninth Principle in the No Politics. Zenarchists promote and demonstrate Alternatives to Bureaucracy such as affinity groups, tribalism, town-meeting democracy and participatory parallel institutions. All such alternatives resemble each other in that elected representatives of families, clans, tribes or whatever are not powered to make laws in meetings with representatives of other groups. Instead, they may negotiate contracts, subject to approval by the members of the group they represent. That's the first difference between a libertarian federation and a bureaucracy. Everyone is equal in power; elected officials are not more equal than everyone else - as were the pigs in George Orwell's Animal Farm. A second crucial difference is that contracts are enforced, not at gun point, but by community sanction. A family or tribe or township that breaks an agreement suffers a loss of credit, for others refuse to do business with it to a degree dependent on the seriousness of the breach. That system works today on Wall Street; when a broker says on the phone he or she will buy a certain number of shares, that commitment stands, even if the price of the stock in question declines before the deal is made. Corporate bureaucracies also use the second method, but not the first - thus they are slightly more efficient than government bureaus: they experience fewer S.N.A.F.U.'s. When cooperatives in which all are equal fail, it is usually because the members lack skills in conducting meetings or in nonviolently arbitrating disputes, not because voluntary federations are less effective.
So-called meeting-house Quakers possess excellent skills in conducting meetings. Much can learned from them and from the secular Movement for a New Society, a pacifist organization with Quaker origins.
As for dispute resolution, see the advice given by Jesus in the Bible for treatment of an offending brother and note the similar Essene method reported in The Wilderness Revolt by Diane Kennedy Pike. Also refer to Discovery of Freedom by Rose Wilder Lane to see how quarrels are resolved without recourse to coercion in Middle East market places.
Taken separately, many of these Nine Principles do not sound like much. When studied to a point that they are absorbed wholistically - as a Gestalt - they are seen as intimately interconnected. Taken together, they reinforce one another and in fact function as the Vital Organs of Human Liberty.
In summary: The No Politics is Taoistically skeptical of rewards and punishments, because humans learn by imitation and all money and prisons teach is manipulative behavior; the truth about everything will help more than anything else to make everyone free; public, corporate and technocratic bureaucracies don't function as effectively as voluntary federations.
The Seven Noble Natural Rights
There are at least seven natural rights, or the Tao of human activity in society possesses seven attributes, or people are like machines only in the respect that they don't work good if you neglect their maintenance requirements.
What are the maintenance requirements of the human being? Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and food, clothing, shelter and medical care.
Keeping us confused and divided against one another about these rights, the multinational power elite teaches us in America that only life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights. In socialist nations they promote the view that only food,clothing, shelter and medical care are rights.
We are further encouraged to argue about whether rights must be earned or whether it is the duty of the government to guarantee them. Everyone necessarily struggles for their rights, and no government can ever guarantee anything except death and taxes.
All that bickering begs the relevant question: What can we do in voluntary cooperation to see that our natural rights, our intimate functional needs, are respected? Without that much, human beings are incapable of behaving as constructively rational and loving members of any population.
Zenarchy: Next Chapter!
Zenarchy: Table of Content
Copyright 1991, 1997 Kerry W. Thornley, IllumiNet Press and Impropaganda.