I recently stumbled upon a revelation concerning anarchists and the personal principles that they espouse.
I’d seen the following shirt design by the Life Is Good company, which states “The Keys To Happiness Are All Around Us,” then lists out various character traits and life approaches or principles:
I liked the concept, and thought maybe I’d design a similar shirt for my Amazon store (Eastwood Innovations), except with an anarchy logo, and listing some common character traits/life approaches or principles of anarchists.
So I went on FB and asked for people to opine as to the “top 6 or 8” character traits, virtues, or principles of anarchists, in order to come up with a good, encompassing set for the shirt. As examples, I listed character traits such as authenticity, honesty, integrity, compassion, etc.
The response I got was astounding; for one, most people listed their perceived definitions of anarchy, rather than the characteristics of anarchists. But among those who properly understood the question, only two or three responded as I expected, listing what they felt were important character traits/principles of anarchists, along the same lines as the examples I provided.
On the other hand, to my surprise, most debated that there even ARE common character traits of anarchists! One stated we just want to be left alone; another said the character traits I listed as examples seemed rather utopian! And, a few actually debated amongst themselves whether even basic respect for others was an essential characteristic of anarchists!
This was eye-opening for me. I suddenly realized that the character traits that I and many others strive to develop and refine, and the principles that we try to adhere to, are not universal among (self-proclaimed) anarchists—instead, it’s the other way around: those of us who do pursue the development of these traits and principles tend to become anarchists—but it became apparent to me, based on the responses to my question, that all (again, self-proclaimed) anarchists don’t necessarily strive to develop these character traits or espouse these principles.
And this realization happened to play right into the liberty philosophy I’ve been developing, which I now call Toward Autarchy…
I’ve adopted the term Autarchy or Autarchist because of the explicit “self-rule” element in the definition (which is absent in the term anarchy, which simply states no rulers, which can easily be perceived as individuals not even ruling themselves, thus it’s misconception of chaos, lawlessness, riots in the streets). and wherein I’ve taken the liberty to expand upon “self-rule” to include such traits as self-discipline, self-mastery, self-efficacy, etc.
In other words, Autarchy addresses not only the rights/liberty side of the “freedom coin”, but the responsibility/duty side as well, whereas I don’t believe anarchy does. Anarchy seems to address only the rights/liberty side, but not necessarily the responsibility/duty side, which I hold to be equally important for achieving a free society.
Just as in the past I coined the term sovereigntarian to replace libertarian, since libertarianism is often confused with libertinism, and plus there’s always confusion as to whether one is referring to the (small-L) libertarian ideology, or the (capital-L) Libertarian Party (which, BTW, seems today is anything BUT libertarian, ideologically speaking). And further, minarchist libertarianism (limited-government or constitutional libertarianism) is a flawed and demonstrably failed ideology, leaving only anarcho-libertarianism or anarcho-capitalism as a viable ideology for achieving a free society.
On the other hand, my coined term sovereigntarian implies the sovereignty of the individual; that the individual is the sole and final authority over his or her life, mind, body, labor, property, and wealth (and, interestingly, though due to lack of interest I allowed my sovereigntarian URL to expire and the website was terminated, and I also deleted the FB page years ago, somebody out there saved the logo and description on Pinterest!)
And in the same vein, today I prefer the term consentualist or consensualist over voluntaryist, as being more accurate and encompassing, because doing something voluntarily doesn’t necessarily imply that you consent to it—an example being that you might voluntarily pay taxes in order to avoid the consequences of not paying them, but you certainly don’t consent to it.
But back to Autarchy: when I recently recognized the correlation between the personal development of individuals toward (or away from) self-mastery and the shifting of society toward (or away from) freedom, I was hooked on the concept, and started trying to develop the body of thought in a coherent way to share with others. So far, I feel I’ve mostly failed in that regard (but it’s still in the early stages of development; for more on the concept, check out my Toward Autarchy Facebook page, and the Toward Autarchy category on my blog).
Anyway, after being taken aback by the negative responses I got on Facebook when asking people for the top 6 or 8 character traits of anarchists, the sudden realization that the self-mastery element is not universal among libertarians/anarchists, but rather anarchism is more universal among those striving for self-mastery, was quite a revelation, at least for me.
Which indicates that those anarchists who are, in fact, pursuing self-mastery, are in actuality autarchists, not merely anarchists—and those who aren’t…well, aren’t.
And that revelation has reinforced my belief that the continued exploration and development of my liberty philosophy Toward Autarchy is valid, if not sorely needed.