Rational Anarchism

In his 1966 novel, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, science-fiction Grand Master Robert A. Heinlein relates how the inhabitants of a colony on the moon carry out a revolution with the aid of a self-aware computer.. During a discussion leading up to the start of the revolution, one of the characters, Professor De La Paz, describes his political philosophy to fellow conspirators, Manuel O’ Kelly and Wyoming Knott.

De La Paz states that he is a rational anarchist:  

“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.”

 Society can be divided into three brought groups of people, citizens, barbarians and para-barbarians, defined by the level by which they follow the laws and tenets of the society. Citizens, of course, follow the laws because they are laws, and are the mainstay of every society. Barbarians, of course, break the laws, at every chance. Para-barbarians are somewhere in-between these, following the law when it suits their purpose, breaking the law when it suits their purpose.

 A rational anarchist is a sub-set of the para-barbarian category. A rational anarchist differs from a true anarchist because the RA believes in the necessity of the State;  not because the State makes any rational sense, but because the State is necessary in human society. The Rational Anarchist recognizes the inevitability of hierarchy in human organizations. Our very evolution as a species, is one of groups or packs with hierarchical dominance. An anarchist, insists on the dominance of individual intelligence and personal will over that of the hierarchy. The rational anarchist though, recognizes the need for these hierarchies. A rational anarchist supports society, and obeys the laws of society because he has made a rational choice to do so…and does not obey those laws if those laws do not follow a moral code.

 That is the key….the rational anarchist makes moral choices. On what basis are these choices made? In Robert Heinlein’s book “Starship Troopers,” the Col. Dubois, teacher of the course titled “History and Moral Philosophy” explains:

 What is ‘moral sense’? It is an elaboration of the instinct to survive. The instinct to survive is human nature itself, and every aspect of our personalities derives from it. Anything that conflicts with the survival instinct acts sooner or later to eliminate the individual and thereby fails to show up in future generations. This truth is mathematically demonstrable, every-where verifiable; it is the single eternal imperative controlling everything we do.

“But the instinct to survive,” he had gone on, “can be cultivated into motivations more subtle and much more complex than the blind, brute urge of the individual to stay alive. Young lady, what you miscalled your ‘moral instinct’ was the instilling in you by your elders of the truth that survival can have stronger imperatives than that of your own personal survival. Survival of your family, for example. Of your children, when you have them. Of your nation, if you struggle that high up the scale. And so on up. A scientifically verifiable theory of morals must be rooted in the individual’s instinct to survive—and nowhere else!— and must correctly describe the hierarchy of survival, note the motivations at each level, and resolve all conflicts.

“We have such a theory now; we can solve any moral problem, on any level. Self-interest, love of family, duty to country, responsibility toward the human race—we are even developing an exact ethic for extra-human relationships But all moral problems can be illustrated by one misquotation tation: ‘Greater love hath no man than a mother cat dying to defend her kittens.’ Once you understand the problem facing that cat and how she solved it, you will then be ready to examine yourself and learn how high up the moral ladder you are capable of climbing.

A rational anarchist makes choices based on self-interest, a hierarchy of self-interest, where the self is at the top, followed by the family, and then society. It is anarchy because it is the individual, not the state or government, who must and does decide. In order to decide morally, the individual must attempt to “correctly describe the hierarchy of survival, note the motivations at each level, and resolve all conflicts”. The resolution of the conflicts requires that the demands of some levels are subjugated to the demands of higher levels, a very simple case being when a mother or father gives up his life to protect the children. In a lawful society, desires for justice or revenge are given over to the state rather than being performed by the individual.   Note, however, that should an individual make the choice to fulfill that desire personally, then he is answerable to the state and its laws

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