The Philosopher Between the Capitalist and the Communist
Chapter 9 : The Anarchist City
There was a tumultuous, unorganized group of people at the site of the new Anarchist adventure. There were Anarchists, both Communist and Capitalist, but there were also Unionists and Socialists from the Communist camp, and Intellectuals and Small Business owners from the Capitalist camp. Everyone had their own voice.
"We shall call it a commune! The Anarchist Commune!"
"A commune, as in Communism? Why not call it The Anarchist World?"
"What? Are you not daring enough to recommend the name The Anarchist Business?"
Then finally, a wise voice broke out from the crowd, "Friends, friends! We've argued too much before, let us be active now with our bodies where before we were active with our mouths -- let's just call it The Anarchist City!"
This was the start of the first meeting of the Anarchist City. It was formed just between Lake Tuz and the city of Ankara, a short distance for the members who wanted to visit the urban areas, and an equally short distance for those who only want to visit nature. And once the group of people had decided on how they were going to live and where they were going to live, they had to come together and write a proclamation to the world. By midnight, they had decided, and this is the pamphlet that circulated in the nearby cities...
"Communists! We call on you to do away with your king! Death to Solon!
A committee of Anarchists from Athens was formed to make a special announcement for the Greeks, and an association of Anarchists from Babylon came together to do the same for the Babylonians. They were each to provide a unique voice for their own cultures, the one Communist and the other Capitalist. Even though the Communists and Capitalists wrote their own statements, they were both subject to each other's review. It took several days, the groups building their primitive huts during the days while arguing during the nights. So much time was spent on simply exchanging views over the matter of changing a few words here or there. But the people came together on approving a statement for each empire without splitting up the Anarchist City before it had even started. Each statement ended with: "Communism and Capitalism are the Same Thing -- they both want what's best for humanity, but only when they are free."
From Athens, there came miners and shipbuilders, architects and blacksmiths, factory workers and metal smelters. From Babylon, there came farmers and professors, small shopkeepers and priests, intellectuals and writers. And of course, they all brought their families with them. They each entered a new world, they each left behind the old empires of Solon and Hammurabi.
The Athenians surveyed the landscape, discovering sources of coal and iron within a short distance of Anarchia. They quickly set up the equipment for extracting it, just as the smelters had blacksmiths prepared their tools to make useful items out of the metal. And, along with giving the Anarchist City its first mine and metalworks, they gave it its first Cooperativists, Unionists, Socialists, and Collectivists. They each had their own particular voice, they each gave their energy to the free air of ideas that surrounded the developing village.
The Babylonians examined the soil and plants of the region, finding the habitat perfect for beans, apples, apricots, watermelons, tomatoes, and onions -- and most importantly, the climate was well suited to growing wheat. Bakeries were quickly set up, using techniques they their parents had used for centuries, sometimes even with tools their parents had used for centuries. Orchards were plotted and seed sown in the fields. And in the city itself, they had sown the ideas of fierce individualism and independence from everything, with the only communalism being a deep one with the earth.
When there were more hands needed in the field, sometimes the Athenians emptied out of the factories and mines to help in sowing or harvesting. And when demand suddenly exploded out of proportion for the goods of the Anarchist City's manufacturers, the farmers likewise left their fields and the woods to take their positions in the factories. Many of the Communists could claim at least one Capitalist friend, and the reverse was also true. The miners and factory workers trusted their guides when avoiding poisonous plants and learning how to properly use a scythe. The farmers and woodland travelers trusted the union stewards at the factories and mines who cautioned about the dangerously hot metals and the explosions from blasting. Necessity of circumstance forged their bonds.
There were even moments when their unity created something greater than the sum of their individual parts. Professors and scholars from Babylon introduced the miners to new techniques and substances that could be used to produce explosions; similarly, architects and engineers from Athens demonstrated to the farmers better methods for transporting their crop from the field to the nearest port. The little Greek children marveled at the stories told by the Babylonian elders, whenever their accents weren't too thick, and the Babylonian children would get excitement by watching miners blast rock by superheating it and pouring water over it, whenever they weren't told to go away because they were interfering.
To declare Anarchia as their home, the Communists built a community center, the Capitalists built a church. The Unionists from Athens had their own labor hall, the small farmers from Babylon had their purchasing cooperative, the Greek Cooperativists had their worker-owned businesses, and the Babylonian intellectuals had their own libraries. Everyone had their own place to call their spring of inspiration, and no one group ever came to became a majority. There was only one tendency, one thought, one idea which could be found in the minds of each citizen: anarchy. In the corner of every group's flag, there could be found the Anarchist symbol, an A inside of an O -- " Anarchy is Order."
There is one part of society which cannot be forgotten about, and which most writers tend to completely overlook: the children, and in Anarchia, they formed a single, mutual, cooperative mass, instead of dividing into branches of Socialist or Capitalist or Unionist or Communist, like their parents. For every parent who told their son or daughter, "You're a Communist! Be proud of it!" or "You're a Capitalist! Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't matter!", there were ten parents telling their children, "Play with any of the children you like, as long as they respect you and you respect them." And by the education of experience, the gift freely given by their friends, those children with intolerant parents learned to laugh inside every time they heard, "You're not hanging out with those Communist boys, are you?" or "You're not seeing that Capitalist girl, are you?" But there was more to how they raised their children than just that.
Occasionally, the children from nearby villages would run away from the belt beatings of their parents, and it would be to Anarchia that they fled. When mobs of angry parents, carrying pitchfork and torch, went to the city to find their children, they were greeted with, "Sorry, haven't seen them," before the city gates slammed closed on them -- just as the those very children were having supper in a warm home with friendly company, safe behind the city walls. In a few cases, the mob would respond to this with, "You can't shut your doors on us! We've got a police officer with us!" The only response of the Anarchians, in that case, was to loudly display the snapping and cracking noise that occurs from loading a large number of crossbows at once. There were too many eyewitnesses to such cases to deny that this ever happened, and it has been said, that even the Philosopher admitted once himself to knowing the stories as fact. In one case, memorably retold by a messenger of King Solon, an Anarchian was even heard to say, "Don't forget how far away you are from the king." Anarchia was just that sort of place -- an open sanctuary for the abused children of the world.
Emma and Benjamin devoted their days to labor, but their nights to each other. "You know, when I was young, someone in Athens told me this story," Emma was telling Benjamin late one night, "He said that Athens and Babylon were the first cities to have ever come into existence, and that they marked two distinct trends in humanity -- equality in Athens, and inequality in Babylon. Humanity in Athens, and insufferable cruelty in Babylon. He said that the struggle between Athens and Babylon was really about the struggle of mankind with its own soul, the one part trying to kill the other. I think he said, exactly, 'It had to be this way, Athens hating Babylon and Babylon hating Athens, Communists hating Capitalists and Capitalists hating Communists -- it is the original conflict that ever rose up in humanity, the very first difference between right and wrong. Don't hate them personally, but hate them vengefully, with a sense of pity, that they had to be the first to express to the world man's worst characteristic.'"
"The original myth, huh?" Benjamin responded.
"Yeah, something like that," Emma smiled.
"Our elders used to tell us the same story, but not in exactly the same way," Benjamin said, " 'In the beginning, everyone just a farmer, minded their own business, and worked their own land,' is what they used to tell us. 'There was no question of Communist or Capitalist, because everyone was a Capitalist. We were all in it together, not like now, where we're at each other's throats with threats and hatred. Everywhere there was peace, until some irreverent children decided to get some new ideas that they wanted to force on everyone. Then the people split in half, the one Communist, the other Capitalist, the new thinkers blessing the bastions under Collectivism and the Conservative peasant reminiscing about a simple past where we didn't need states. Thousands of years ago, every person held either a hoe or a shovel in their hands. Today, we have to have men who hold battleaxes, spears, swords, and bows, men who hold charts of enemy territory filled with small rocks representing groups of soldiers, and men who wear a brittle crown and give orders -- just so that we can continue living the way we have always lived, without fear of the Communist Revolution sneaking up on our shores and throwing everyone out of their natural place.'"
"Our ancestors were idiots," Emma take a swig from her bottle.
"They still believe in the first, original myth -- that mankind was split in half by the differences of Communist and Capitalist, between community-based personality and individual-based personality."
"Between city-dwelling laborer who depends constantly upon complex social-economic relationships to satisfy the needs of mind and body, and the woods-hiking agriculturalist who depends constantly upon the Earth itself without much contact at all with other human beings," Emma said, taking another swig, "It's quite fine and well for people who are completely different in all ways to live and work, side by side together, so long as everyone is honest with each other."
"These must be myths," Benjamin said, "There is no way that anyone could possibly know that far back in time, whether the first moral struggle was between property-owners and property-communalizers."
"Between those who aggrandized private property and those who aggrandized community property," Emma replied, "You are certainly right about that. They have to be myths, either set up deliberately to keep us under the thumb of a king, or due to the naive ignorance of the masses under the influence of some chieftain or local lord."
"There may be differences in culture and personality between us, absolutely," Benjamin said, "But that's not going to stop us from realizing how much we need each other to survive in the face of oppressive and brutalizing governments. If being different from each other is our sin, then tolerance will be our redemption."
"You know..." Emma said, "We could make our own myth. We could even openly recognize that it's a myth, a hoax, a joke that some people just never seem to get. That way, when it turns out that our ideas for society are wrong, and somebody is ready to try out some different way of living in society, nobody will ever be able to say 'but our ancestors always said!'"
"Well, we were always told that humanity's first conflict was between the Capitalist and the Communist. The first myth is about the first conflict. So, let's make up the opposite myth. Let's make up a legendary story about the first conflict being between Governmentalists and Anarchists -- between Statists and Libertarians. Humanity did not split because of property being classified as 'private' or 'community'; humanity split into one part and the other because one side was the oppressed and the other side was the oppressor."
"But is it still a myth if I believe in it already?" Benjamin smiled.
"Even moreso!" Emma took a swig, "The stronger your imagination, the stronger your hope."
"The first conflict was between authority and its subject, between ruler and ruled, between oppressor and oppressed, between slaver and slave, between dominator and dominated -- that was the first conflict!" Emma took a swig in response to Benjamin's enthusiasm, "The first struggle in all of civilization was not between this culture and that culture, this society and that society, these people and those people -- it was between government and liberty."
"Our own myth for our own people!" Emma reciprocated his enthusiasm, "Culture isn't just made by people, it's made by people having ideas, so let's give them an idea!"
At the next town meeting, when the audience allowed itself to have a speaker, Emma volunteered Benjamin, and Benjamin volunteered Emma. Her words were direct and eloquent: "It has only been said to us, and we're not even certain of it, and there's really no reason to believe in it, and the evidence is scant, and all that you're about to hear is from someone repeating a story, and any quoted text we're about to mention will likely be extremely dubious, and there may be political and social motives behind what we're about to say -- but we have a religious myth we would like to give you."
"In the beginning, humanity was free and at peace," Benjamin said, "There were no wars and there was no famine, families were not split apart by the rivalry of social factions, and societies were not ripped asunder by social obligations or economic necessity. Every soul that wanted happiness was at liberty to take it. The only barrier that ever rose up between an individual and their wants was the force of nature. And then, there was government. One part of society was perpetually cloaked in the darkness of a million laws, always expanding, growing, and colonizing. The other part was stunned by how quickly freedom had vanished before just a handful of people calling themselves kings and queens. The world has forever been split between those two sides -- those who believe in government and law, and those who believe in anarchy and freedom. This is the original conflict within humanity. It is not between people who treat property differently, it is between people who treat liberty differently!"
The crowd of Anarchist citizens rejoiced with thousands of screams amid the endless sea of black flags. For a few, brief seconds, the world heard nothing but the roar of Revolution. Its rivers and mountains were quiet before the thunder of Anarchia. Even the clouds, in their incessant drifting through a borderless sky, slowed down, just to take notice that a new people have birthed their own myth.
Looking before the mass expanse of people standing and cheering, the two speakers caught the glint of an eye from an old man twiddling his beard within the crowd. It was the Philosopher. Intrigued and surprised, the two Anarchists headed departed from the view of their spectators and joined the masses, approaching perhaps the calmest soul among the jubilant people in the street.
"It's good to see you again since that fateful day!" Benjamin greeted the visitor, "You look healthy and well! I hope my senses don't betray me."
"Welcome to our city, Philosopher!" Emma spoke, "Don't let a single plod of earth tread underfoot without feeling like you're in your own home."
"It's good to see you both, too, since that day long ago, when I politely asked you both to be quiet so I could drink and smoke," the Philosopher grinned, "It's a nice city you have here -- a nice, Anarchist city. I promise to treat all of the villagers like my family."
"Would you like something to eat?" Benjamin offered, "The city has the greatest restaurants in the world, small and comfortable atmospheres with large and delicious portions."
"Would you like something to drink, as well?" Emma also offered, "The lonely journey here must have parched your body for good spirits and your mind for good souls. We have the best taverns in this part of the Mediterranean, most of them equipped with a hookah."
Before the Philosopher had a moment to answer, Ben asked, "What brought you up to our humble village? Was it the lure of our conversation?"
The Philosopher replied, "Not exactly. I haven't heard any disagreements yet -- any worth my attention, anyway."
"Do you mean, unlike our first disagreement, between the Anarchist-Communists and the Anarchist-Capitalists?" Emma said.
The Philosopher spoke, "That may have been a disagreement, and it may have had its merits in listening to, but for me at that time, it was just a disturbance to feeding liquor and smoke to my soul."
Ben said, "And yet, such a world as we've made here, probably wouldn't have been possible without your interference."
"But, different in a bad way, correct?" Emma said, "Would you have really wanted there to be two different personalities, both within the same body, constantly raging against each other in argument?"
"You couldn't possibly mean that you're not a friend of our city, are you?" Benjamin asked, "What could you have against a city that wouldn't dare enforce a single law against you?"
"Is there any doubt here about my good will?" the Philosopher asked.
"Of course not, the holder of truth is always a welcome guest in Anarchia," Emma replied, "You came, without us even sending for you, unlike those crude masters of Babylon and Athens."
The Philosopher responded, "Kings send away for saviors when they need them, so noble saviors must look for those who do not have the power to 'send for' anything they please."
The Anarchist-Capitalist said boldly, "We shall establish a revolution throughout the world, and we will pass in down to our children for a thousand generations! Do you really think we need you as a savior?"
The Philosopher replied, "You're both too excitable. That's all it is. Me, personally, I get excited when I feel in control of my garden -- a thousand generations is a bit too much for me to sift through."
Benjamin spoke, "Are you another naysayer who has come to our humble town to tell us that we should go back to our kings, fall on our knees, and beg for forgiveness?"
The Philosopher asked, "Do you really think I would tell you that? Are you honestly arguing with me, or just disagreeing?"
There was no response from the two.
"I don't understand you Anarchists. You're not like those of us who love philosophy. It's not enough for you to hold truth. You must use it to change everything you can touch -- your revolution is to convert the world. That is your duty. But the Philosopher has no other duty besides duty to truth."
"Of course all of the old world must be changed!" Emma replied, "Rip it all from the ground, every root that sprouted up a weed of tyranny and deceit, every plant sown in the ashes of burnt books, every grain of wheat used to feed the empire's troops!"
"It's not that, it's -- " their conversation was interrupted by a distant sound, and with a quiet whisper, the Philosopher said, "Is that the gallop of a steed?"
The village was taking good notice of a single horseman heading towards the city, a soldier draped with a red sash from one shoulder to his side. As he came closer, some of the villagers recognized the emblem of King Solon.
"The echo of an empire's thunder has reached our humble, little homes," Emma said.
"No, no, it's not just that," the Philosopher, "Turn around."
Just in the opposite direction, another horseman was approaching the village -- except this soldier's sash was colored blue. The closer his horse came, the more the villagers noticed the crest of King Hammurabi on the buckle of the beast's handle.
"In one direction, you see the red, in the other, you see the blue, so be prepared for blood and royalty -- their appearance has invalidated my purpose here." While the masses were focused on the approach of these strangers, Emma turned to pay attention to the soft whispers of the Philosopher, "You know, I wouldn't have come here, unless I had something to tell you -- unless there was some knowledge you absolutely deserved to have."
The blue-sashed horseman held out a letter in the air, wrapped in one ribbon of gold and another ribbon of blue, and then proclaimed, "I don't know which one of you is in charge, and nobody seems to know -- so who is going to take responsibility for receiving this message from Hammurabi, King of All Kings?" Benjamin, the Anarcho-Capitalist, realized that he had to be the one to take the offerings of his homeland, and reached out to take the letter. Just as the parchment touched his hands, the Philosopher said, "I suppose you now know why I came -- what I needed to tell you."
The Anarcho-Capitalist slowly unwrapped the letter, breaking the king's wax seal and unleashing the voice of an empire. Holding in his hands several sheets of paper, each with carrying their own seal and authentication, Ben finally focused on the first page, and began to read the first paragraph, the words reaching his mouth at the same time they reached his mind: "Among you I count the villains and scourges of the world -- and if you do not disperse before the greatness of Babylon, we shall have to bear the strength of our rightness to you through force."
Benjamin closed the letter, looked to the crowd, read the looks of the peoples' faces, and tore it into a thousand pieces, "Our bonfires weren't warm enough!" he screamed through the cheers of the mob, the horse underneath the blue-sashed soldier becoming restless and kicking back in anxiety.
Next, the red-sashed horseman repeated the same ritual, instead declaring, "I have a letter here, addressed from King Solon of Athens, and I have orders to give it to whoever is in charge, and if nobody is really in charge, then I am to give it to whoever here has the most influence."
"Give it to me," Emma said. In her hands, she examined the parcel stamped in block letters "Official Communique from the Athenian Communist Party." She tore off the short end of the letter, and then emptied the contents into her palm, a single sheet of paper, full of that Cyrillic-based language, Greek. Speaking loudly, she read the first words to the people of Anarchia: "I should be such a proud king to have so many followers more adventurous than I am -- but when children are bad, as you have been, then you deserve the punishment of my wrath." Her eyes closed with the letter. "Let us fear no tyrant!" she screamed forth as she tore the letter up with tears filling her eyes. The crowd uttered a final cheer, and by the time the letters were burnt, the messengers had disappeared, and the Philosopher approached the two Anarchists with a sad and dour face.
"I must go," the Philosopher said, "I apologize so much for my delay. I should have been here earlier, but for now, I must leave."
"But why?" Emma pleaded, "Why won't you stay with us and resist? You know our cause is just, don't you?"
"How do you know that there's not some other village, just beyond the next mountain range, that isn't waiting to receive its final warnings a little early and by a friendly messenger?"
"You will be missed, Philosopher," Emma said.
"Our city will never turn you away," Benjamin gave his final farewell, "Visit whenever you like, come war or peace."