I recently began identifying myself as an Autarchist, rather than the more common term Anarchist, because I believe it to be a more accurate description of the ideology (at least as I integrate it).

Anarchy, simply meaning no rulers, can be—and, as we’re all aware, typically is—conceived as total lawlessness, chaos, riots in the streets, etc. And this is understandable, I think, because “no rulers” can easily include oneself—i.e., one not even ruling oneself.

Autarchy, on the other hand, is specifically defined as self-rule, while at the same time specifying “and ruling nobody else,” i.e., no (external) rulers. So this more aptly addresses both sides of what I call the liberty coin—the rights & liberty side, which of course most people are quick to mention, as well as the equally important responsibility & duty side, which tends to be somewhat neglected in discussions.

I believe that self-rule also implies self-mastery, self-discipline, self-reliance, and even developing a healthy self-esteem—defined as the dual facets of self-efficacy (competence, trust in one’s mind) and self-worth (belief that one deserves love and happiness). [Re: The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem, by Nathaniel Branden]

And when I recently learned that Jung differentiated between individuation (self-actualization through integration of the conscious and the unconscious), and individualism, which he claimed to be “essentially no more than a morbid reaction against an equally futile collectivism.” [Re: The Essential Jung: Selected Writings], I decided that that dovetails nicely with my differentiation between Anarchy vs. Autarchy—not merely the rejection of external rule, but the careful integration of self-rule, as with Jung’s Individualism vs. Individuation, not merely the rejection of collectivism, but the holistic development of the individual.

Now, combine those ideas with my more recent observation, when I posted on FB:

“I’m coming to believe that there is addiction, and there is enlightenment, and there is no in-between.”

(Note: I use the term addiction in the psychological sense, not necessarily implying drug or alcohol addiction).

Today, I believe this even more strongly; there is a continuum of personal development, to be sure—but there are only two directions in which individuals can move along that continuum: toward addiction (attempts at external fulfillment, with one manifestation being statism) or toward enlightenment (fulfillment from within, which ultimately manifests as personal liberty or liberation). [UPDATE: See my more recent thoughts on this idea under my blog category Toward Autarchy]

I’ve come to believe that somewhere within these concepts—Autarchy, Individuation, and Enlightenment—is where the real understanding and pursuit of liberty resides.