Given that I have put so much time and effort into criticism over advocacy, it is inevitable and familiar for some people to think something along the lines of, “all you do is criticize everyone and everything, don’t you have any real beliefs and principles? Do you stand for anything?”.
Of course, I have always retorted that some beliefs and principles are already implicit and sometimes explicit in my criticism. Indeed, one of my criticisms of Max Stirner has been precisely that his “conscious egoist”, strictly defined, is in a way a fictional impossibility because of the basic nature of human society. No one can truly be free from social construction and the power of ideas. Everyone is influenced by the historical contingency of the entirety of human history before they were born and what their immediate environment is throughout their lives. There is no such thing as one who has “built their cause on nothing”, and I have never had that pretense. Therefore I have no problem roughly outlining my beliefs and principles.
While I use an image of Cthulhu for this blog’s image, it would probably be more representative to have an image of Azathoth (as a non-believer I verily say unto you: if there were a god, it would be Azathoth). Or to use Dungeons and Dragons lingo, the universe is probably best characterized as chaotic neutral, and dogmatic modes of philosophy and politics are essentially an attempt to make it lawful. Social reality is contradictory by nature and non-dogmatic thinking requires one to embrace the encounter of multiple truths that appear to be contradictions on the surface while also overlapping, as well as have awareness of the gap between desire and necessity when it comes to values and practical maneuvering through the world.
This means it would be wise to maintain some individual distance and humbleness, and not just dive head first into a group’s dynamics or become easily seduced by elegant simplicity. And maybe be more hesistant about pulling the trigger on dedication to some guidebook to reality or grand goal. Part of the problem of modernity is that at least for much of the west we’ve killed god and the king only for other ideas to have the same function, without there necessarily being any less pernicious effects. In the name of “progress” and as a way to fill the void, we have enslaved ourselves to money, technology, nations, and popular culture. In this respect, Max Stirner’s infamous manifesto is one of the earliest known proclamations of the problem of modernity.
But to be more relevant to the present, the problem of modernity appears to have also morphed into the problem of hipsterdom. People born into secular, technological capitalist society increasingly encounter existential crisis as they maneuver through culture. And many of them may tend to become the exact opposite of Stirner’s concious egoist – a sponge for identities or one who has been seduced by the image and come to identify it with themselves, the logical end of which is to turn the individual into a living meme in a simulacrum of a world. That helps explain the increase in people I’ve encountered with large numbers of adjectives to attach to themselves, sometimes in contradiction to each other. It also might help explain how so many people can radically flip through political ideologies in a short amount of time. On the flip side, those who are most alienated from culture can experience the most cognitive dissonance and discomfort with consciously encountering a void of meaning.
It is with this understanding in the background that I analyze the political circles of my generation and beyond. I try to be self-aware of how it plays into my own political history and challenge the self-awareness of others. Part of self-awareness is in admitting that you’re not an ubermensch, you’re not a fully realized “concious egoist” and never will be. But with that being said, it’s not just about self-awareness but also about awareness of the world without being too cluttered by ideology and image-seduction. You might not be able to be the ubermesnche, but you can use critical thinking and observation to somewhat de-culturize yourself enough to see how culture subsumes the individual, to get a sense of how ideology functions and to see how constrained people can be by their own apparent freedom. I would like to see more people throwing off the problematic baggage of culture that the market has saturated them with rather than freely playing with it. But I see too many young libertarians as taking on the role of “the last man” who thinks they’re the ubermsenche.
Embracing the chaotic nature of the world means knowing that you probably can’t change society to your liking, taking more genuine responsibility for who you are, and humbling yourself to the fact that you have little choice but to carefully craft your own laws out of an imperfect brew. Or as Zombie Gary Gygax says, “Attempting to be chaotic good in a world that you know is chaotic neutral, with a drift toward chaotic evil caused by humans attempting to make it lawful, is not easy an task.” Azathoth has no real answer for you, but may he serve as a reminder of your condition. It is on you to do your best to responsibly craft who you are while honestly facing the all-pervasive threats of cognitive dissonance and irreducible complexity. You may find that it is ultimately liberating to *not* be so much a part of political community, culture and market in your self-understanding that informs your interactions and decisions. This may require learning how to bite the bullet of alienation.
Libertarians are hardly the only group this issue applies to, as what I’m talking about is really a massive social problem, but it is my experiences with and continued observation of libertarians that most intimately informs my understanding of how this issue plays out, and in a sense libertarianism’s association with capitalism serves to reinforce the kind of problems I observe and makes it especially prone to some of the perversion of meaning and value at the mercy of a technological market-driven society. I criticize libertarianism because I believe in the authenticity and sincerity of human values, cynical realism about the world, and concretely realized social freedom to whatever extent it can be had. I believe in basic social-psychological health to the determent of culture. But I know, without fear, that everything is ultimately consumed by cosmic chaos.
Thus Spake the Apostle of Azathoth
All Hail The Blind Idiot God