The Philosopher Between the Capitalist and the Communist
Chapter 23 : Authoritarians in Anarchia
As Spargo walked through the market, looking through the goods and the commodities available, he found a rather talkative friend, who mentioned the Original Myth. "The what?"
"The original myth," the Anarchian said, "We don't believe that humanity is split in halves between one Communist part and one Capitalist part. We believe that humanity is split in halves, absolutely, except that one part is Authoritarian and the other part is Anarchist."
"But why call it a myth, if you think that it's true?" Spargo asked.
"Well, maybe it's not true, and maybe it is true," the Anarchian responded, "It doesn't really matter. We have our own piece of liberty here and now. That's what matters." Spargo gave a half-hearted smile to his friend before departing, thinking to himself "these Anarchists are as irrational as they are passionate."
As Agent 354 walked through the wheat fields, examining some of the plants as they loomed before her intermittently at the will of the wind. She brought one of the grains close to her nose and inhaled deeply. "Not a bad crop this year 'round, huh?" a farmer suddenly appears out from the waving beams of golden wheat.
"It is delicious in every way, to my nose and my eye," Agent 354 replied, "How do you keep such a valuable plant, just ready for harvest, out in the open, without a single police officer to protect it?"
"You must be new here," the farmer said, lifting and resettling the straps on his suspenders, "I trust the local Anarchia soldiers to resist anyone who tries to steal anything of mine."
"But aren't most of them Communists?"
"Some of them, sure," the farmer replied, "But, they trust me when I tell them the actual value of the bread I'm selling them. So, it's a two-way partnership, all based on trust."
Agent 354 smiled, "Thank you for letting me investigate some of your crops. But I must now be off to the city center." She disappeared with a peculiar thought on her mind, "these Capitalists have been warped by Anarchism."
Spargo walked some time through the market, replenishing his stocks, and then regained some of his composure after visiting the local tavern and inn. But Agent 354 was driven by ambition and adventure rather than government stipends and state salaries. Completely ignorant of Spargo's present, she went looking through the city to find the two responsible for everything -- Emma and Benjamin. "They must be found, if there is to be any sort of peace and order to return back to humanity and civilization," she thought to herself, searching faces and asking by name in the market and at the Anarchist Square -- with "Square" being a phrase used to describe the mostly-concrete center of any city where people congregate in large numbers.
"You're looking for Ben and Emma?" one citizen replied, "What for? And what would make you think that you'd find them together at the same spot?"
"Well, they're both the founders of Anarchia, aren't they?" Agent 354 replied, "Isn't it natural that the two who put their labor into building this city would be close to each other to coordinate their efforts?"
"Sometimes I see them together, sometimes I see them apart," another citizen from the market replied, not looking up from examining the fruit from vendors, "But you can never tell with those two. Sometimes they're side-by-side, sometimes they're on the opposite sides of town, sometimes their distance marks their industry and activity, sometimes it marks their leisure and docility."
"Nobody can really guess what those two are ever thinking," someone said while weighing a watermelon in their hands, "Just like anyone else here, be they the person guessing or the person being guessed about. You're new in town, aren't you?" The person looked up just in time to catch a glimpse of Agent 354's eyes.
"Oh, yes, you nailed the mark precisely," she replied, "Ben and Emma just sound like such fascinating personalities."
"Attracted to the light?" someone in the market reached over a pile of oranges to grab a grapefruit, "Light never damaged a fire, but it killed the moth attracted to it. Don't be surprised if they destroy everything you've ever deeply believed in throughout your entire life."
"Some of us might be too calloused for that," Agent 354 returned a smile.
"Oh, you should have something resembling warmth and comfort and trust and hope in life," someone said while comparing the weight of two pineapples, "If you don't have that, you won't have anything."
"Thank you so much for your help," she said, "I'm sure I'll be able to find them with your advice. Have a good day!" All the while, she was thinking, "Now I'm even less certain about where I can find them."
She had been at the market and the Anarchist Square, but she could not hunt down the two people most essential to her mission. If there were any other more public places of discussion and discourse, it would have to be at a restaurant, preferably a cafe or a restaurant, then if no success is had, and only then, would she check out the bars and taverns. She already had seen the Square, she was now looking for the Strip, the Promenade, the Waterfront, or even more simply and commonly, just "Downtown."
Walking towards the main street of cafes and restaurants and bars, she noticed the lamps lit outside of the entrances, inviting people to come in. There was as much moisture in the air as there was conversation, as much fog is the sky as there was light from the sunset breaching through it. That's when she caught sight of it, a small streak of blackness darting through the air, her eyes suddenly drawn to it, tracking that dark blur splitting the sky in half. It was a hawk, diving down on its prey, a small finch held to the ground by those deep claws. But a pebble on the landing had dislodged the hawk's grasp, and the small bird flipped through several talons, struggling to free its leg and tail feathers from the final hold as the predator regained its grasp only by expressing its rage at the dirt. Agent 354 was completely drawn to the scene, a single human being look out of the city walls while everyone else was minding their own business, buying in the market, carrying on their gossip, arguing about politics, the older citizens nursing their young and the younger citizens flirting about. But 354 just couldn't turn her eyes away from that sight, almost betting on the hawk, wanting to see that small creature's intestines ripped out to feed the larger one -- the stronger building themselves out of the weaker. But her frame of mind was interrupted.
"Get the metal workers to put down in writing exactly what they want, and then we'll be able to have something to bash over the heads of those Mediterranean merchants," it was Emma talking to a laborer dressed in a worker's apron, "How else should we bargain with them?"
And next to her was Benjamin, "It's a lot easier to tell someone to pay more for your goods when you can actually quote the people who's responsible for producing them. It's not just a matter of you being able to express what you want. It's about the fact that we have the organization and order to guarantee that anything they pay for will be delivered with the deepest sincerity."
"You make excellent arguments," the laborer said, "As their steward, I'll get back to my men, and women, and tell them that we can get a lot more bread for a lot less work if we put in just a little more brain. I should have their answer sometime tomorrow morning or afternoon."
"Emma, Benjamin," Agent 354 stood up from the city bench she was leaning across, "I've been looking for you. I need to know more about your society, although I can see that you have your hands full with pressing and important issues."
"Let's walk and talk, then," Emma said.
"Always enough room for another gust of wind in the air," Ben added.
"Well, I have so many questions about this new society you're building up," Agent 354 said, "My name is Ally, I'm from a small village on the outskirts of Lebanon." She tried to disassociate herself from the Babylonian, cultural background without entirely surrendering it should her new friends probe into her past. "I'm interested in helping to create this new order and civilization you have put upon this planet."
"We didn't put anything anywhere except our own bodies and we did that by walking," Benjamin replied.
"It's not so much that we created something, so much as we had an idea, we said it out loud, and then there were others, who also had the idea, or who just liked what we said," Emma said.
"And what did you say to those who had doubts about it?" Agent 354 asked, "I mean, there must've been so many people used to the old ways and how things used to be. What happened to all of those people?"
"Some of them changed, some of them left, and some of them are still here disagreeing with us," Emma smiled, "We decided to do our own thing our own way. Our Revolution isn't about making others do as we tell them, so much as it is making them realize that they could have always done what they wanted and that it was always something they could have done."
"We didn't build a city to make hierarchy and control the basis of our existence," Benjamin added in another smile, "We made it because a city is the best way for highly-skilled professionals to exchange ideas and goods with each other, and because we always believed it could be done in a way where no one is dominating anyone else."
"But, Ben, you're a Capitalist," Agent 354 said, "She's a Communist. You're blue and she's red. You want everyone to work for themselves and she wants the hard workers to work for the lazy majority. How could you join forces and make a new society together?"
"We're doing the same thing that we've always done," Emma said, "Whatever we want, which happens to be revolution all the time. We're tired and angry about being told that we have to do anything, whether it's being told by a Capitalist or being told by a Communist. We absolutely hate it. We didn't join forces and make a new society. We simply negotiated our differences and then applied our respective talents. We didn't magic up this new world that you see. We may have been the currents in the streams, but we weren't the water itself."
"This city was never established to force people to believe this or that," Benjamin said, "Believe in god or don't believe in god, believe in drugs or don't believe in drugs, believe in society based on the family or believe in society based on communal, sex orgies -- do what you want, you have been doing it for a long time, I have been doing it for a long time. Let's build a society not about authority or hierarchy or control or submission or domination. Instead, let's build a society based on volunteerism and cooperationism! I don't pretend to be the ripples of the lake, I am only a nominee for the brightness of glare on it."
"Oh, come now, Ben," Agent 354 asked as Ally, "You want independence of the individual and Emma wants dependence on the community. You're swords crossed at each other. How could you think to build up a world out of these twisted differences?"
"Ally, we must accept our differences," Benjamin said, "As it is time for us to part."
"I am needed at the mills to redevelop a machine that separates the grain from the chafe," Emma said, "And he's needed to revise the accounts of the lead trader working with the Sicilians."
"But, but, you never tried to answer my arguments," Agent 354 begged.
"I'm an Anarchist Philosopher," Emma said, "Not The Philosopher. He would answer your arguments to the tiniest peck."
"And you wouldn't end up thanking him for it," Ben said, "Trust me on that."
With a separation of two persons, so did Agent 354 separate from the rest of that Anarchist society, eating heavily at a nearby restaurant and then sleeping just as heavily at a nearby inn. This is at the time that Spargo was waking up from his long, dreary sleep at the very same inn. A cooked breakfast, a hot bath, and a set of washed clothes set him up for his operation that day. Imperial agents can't just go overthrowing Anarchist collectives without having something wholesome in their belly and something clean on their back. Spargo couldn't have a taste for anything besides the clean and respectable lifestyle, and if he approached those he wished to deceive without being comfortable, he would be a greater target of suspicion and distrust. Walking out into the streets in the early morning with a inn sign just wavering over his head with the gentle wind breezing through the marketplace, Spargo went out looking for the two -- Emma and Benjamin.
His search was just as difficult as Agent 354's, though. He went through the same marketplace, the same rows of bars and restaurants, making conversation with the same people and getting the same, indecisive answers. "Finding the lead Anarchist in an Anarchist city is like looking for a monster in some backwater, podunk, little village, where every grandmother describes a different way of it killing you and every grandfather describes a different way of warding it off," Spargo thought to himself, "I'm looking for a ghost, a myth, a supernatural beast in this stateless afterlife. At least, that's how these people seem to live."
Spargo walked through some of the workers' districts just near the downtown areas. He saw carpenters and masons, millers and plumbers, mechanics and farmers, porters and sailors; he saw men and women carrying on conversations as they walked to their workplaces, he saw children being cared for in the streets by parents and elders; he saw the infinite bustle and underneath all of that, he tried to understand the firmness and rigidity of the society. "Those same workers go in and go out of the same workplace everyday," he thinks to himself as he stares at one particularly sad-looking dwelling, fluttered with social clusterings of various sizes at random points along its edge, "You go in, you work, you put in your pain, you suffer your tears, and when the day is done, you punch out, take your paycheck, and go home. And then you do this for a lifetime. If only you learned the self-discipline to handle over just a little bit of that money to the Communist Party, then you might have yourselves a real revolution. But now, you have nothing."
His eyes became as dreary as the building was in his mind, until they flashed opened wide. Emma and Benjamin had just walked out of the front door of the building. He didn't take the moment lightly and rushed up to them as soon as the nerve endings in his feet received their electrical impulse. "Emma, Benjamin, it's so good to meet you!" he spoke to them, "I'm a tremendous fan of yours and always have been."
"I know you, don't I?" Emma said, to the surprise of Spargo, "Yes, I've seen you before. At those meetings in Athens. You were with the Unionists and Socialists, weren't you?"
"Well, yes," Spargo smiled, glad that she only knew about those meetings in particular, "You spotted me perfectly. I'm glad my reputation precedes me. Do you have the chance to spare?"
"We may have a moment," Emma said, still walking on with Ben, but only a bit slower, "You see, we're organizing a committee of voluntary, housing inspection. Some traders from Corsica gave us dressed stone instead of granite, causing the collapse and disgrace of some of our peoples' homes, so we're making them fix the old buildings before we ask them for supplies to make any new ones. We both have a million people to talk with today, you understand, don't you?"
"Any Revolution has always entailed that," Benjamin said, "Otherwise, it wouldn't be a revolution. It would just be a bunch of people fighting each other over who should be in charge of who else. Our Revolution isn't like that. Ours is the Anarchist Revolution."
"You get what our revolution is about, right?" Benjamin added. "Communism and Capitalism are the same thing, but Anarchism and Statism are very different things. That's the core of our revolutionary thinking, the basis on which our people have placed their confidence. It is very different from the basis upon which the civilizations in Athens and Babylon were founded."
"It's not simply about which system is right or wrong," Emma said, "It's about where you place emphasis. Do you believe that one person owning lots of property is the problem, or do you think that any type of authority of one person over another itself is the true evil dominating society? If you believe the first, then you are a typical Athenian Communist, but if you believe the second, you're an Anarchist, and you could come from anywhere."
"That sounds like it's more grist for your mill," Spargo said.
"What for my what?" Emma asked, "Did you just call it grist? Look, we grow and harvest wheat here just like everyone else, and it's not the mill anymore. Its actual name is the Self-Managed Millers' Center, so that's what we call it. You are a Communist, aren't you? Don't you believe in worker self-management?"
"I always thought that the Communists in Athens wanted worker self-management, just like you do," Spargo replied, "Except, the Party doesn't think that the workers are ready for it, in objective terms of social and economic background and in subjective terms of cultural and political influence."
"In the eyes of the Communist Party," Ben said, "The workers will be ready for worker self-management only at that point when they can pose absolutely no threat or objection or resistance at all to the rule of the One-Party State. In other words, there will be no such thing left as self at that point, so how can you have self-management?"
"Your objection is finely-worded," Spargo replied, "But if you asked the people of Greece or the people of Babylonia what they would like, they would each tell you they prefer what they were born into and what they will grow up in. And that's themselves speaking, one Communist, and the other Capitalist."
"Yeah, we know that we're different. We've never denied that," Emma said, "It's just not enough of a problem for us to work together in overthrowing the greatest of all social evils -- the State. We would love to murder that centralized piece of authority, that justifier of all prejudices, that imprisoner of thinkers, that enslaver of nations, that genocider of peoples, that priest of war, that merchant of human life. Yes, we would absolutely do away with all state authority, once and for all. That is the basis of how we live here in Anarchia."
Her words sucked the air out of his lungs, and he couldn't keep up in the pace of walking or conversation, finally breaking down under his own weaknesses and unable to fight back against those two seemingly unconquerable temples. One human being stopped amongst the bustle of laborers and farmers, of men and women, of communist and capitalist, but always just among a spontaneous, self-created, self-organized mass of Anarchists. The two industrious and devoted founders walked away from him, as he sulked back to his room at the inn to recuperate and make plans for a counter-attack. The people who worked factories were also the owners and masters, and the same was true of those who worked the fields and brought their crops into town at the marketplace. One lone Statist suffering in an entire world of self-managed anarchy. That is how Spargo retired that night.
The thoughts running through his mind were relatively close to those running through the mind of Agent 354. "It's not simply a matter of separating those two united forces," she thought to herself, "It's not just about pulling apart the two beams holding up this shaky, foundationless society. It's not just about getting one of them alone so that you can make them believe you or even kill them. It's about overthrowing anarchy and the powers of disorder. You cannot destroy a tremendous boulder by throw pebbles and stones at it. Something different needs to be done."
"This isn't going to be something that can happen overnight," Spargo thought to himself, "This is going to require time and effort, pain and energy. I need to get their trust, I need to get them to believe me, I need to hold their hearts in my hand so I can know whether they pulse in desperation of fear or in strength of rage. And maybe sometime between now and when I'm officially offered a position as army general or garrison commander, maybe before I convince the stars that I'm worthy enough of reflecting some of their light and I convince the night that the shadows I cast are its own, maybe sooner than I think -- an opportunity will rise up where I can take this town as my own. Or, maybe, I will get enough understanding of how things are here on the ground, where I can make the opportunity appear."
And so weeks and months would pass, Agent 354 relearning the trade of harvesting wheat which she had mastered in her 13th year, and Spargo demonstrating some of his excellent blacksmithing skills at the forge in the local manufacturery. Every day, Agent 354 looked a little bit more devoted in the eyes of her neighbors, and every day, Spargo looked a little bit more ardent in the eyes of his co-workers. He held himself in remarkable shape during the hallucinogenic drug binge the Anarchists held once every few weeks, and she looked like the sincerest believer when praying with the parishioners of the local church. Each of them blended in more and more, like the insect disguised as a tree branch or the fish camouflaged as sand, blending in more and more with the passage of time.
But it was one day, when the heat was particularly bothersome, that the workers of the local forge were struggling to get every last bag of grain onto the carts going to the port. Spargo had slipped out of the bustle, hiding in the back of the factory, smoking a cigarette. At the same time, during a particularly long prayer ceremony, Agent 354 had also slipped out of the hustle of closed-eyed pastors and preachers, relaxing by stretching and having a drink from a concealed container. The glint of the sun caught the tip of it, reflecting across Spargo's face, and when he looked up, she could feel eyes upon her, and upon bringing her drink down, they saw each other. The one worker who had escaped hard labor and the one believer who had escaped intense prayer. They noticed each other, and slowly walked to each other across the wide, open green of that field, compounded by the loudness of machinery on the one side and the loudness of chanting on the other.
"You don't care," she said, "Right?"
"Right," he said, "And you don't care either."
Later that evening, there was one worker who had gone absent and one worshiper who didn't speak during roll call.