In Praise of Libertarianism, Schisms and Discord


Since the 1960s, Robert Anton Wilson, along with Kerry Thornley (who was, in various incarnations, a Mormon, Objectivist, libertarian, and anarchist) and Greg Hill worked prodigiously to firmly plant the seeds of liberty among the hippies and the New Left under the auspices of a joke disguised as a religion (or a religion disguised as a joke) known as Discordianism. Few of the younger members of the nascent “liberty movement” know much about it but of all the libertarian perspectives I’ve spent time and effort exploring in my two decades as a libertarian, Discordianism seems to be the best fit from my libertarian sensibilities.

Discordianism is a method to encourage tenable individualism. It is a bottom up idea, not a top down one. Discordianism is a scourge of that brand of authoritarianism that wears a thin mask of liberty. As such, I’ve been seeking to put Discordianism on the map as a complementary perspective for libertarians of all stripes; left, right, thick, thin, brutalist, humanitarian, minarchist, and anarchist alike for a while. From the Discordian perspective, libertarians shouldn’t be too concerned with the abundance of schisms and in-fighting within the liberty movement though. In fact, fans of individual liberty might embrace schisms when they begin to understand the Discordian spirit. As a Discordian Pope, I aim to encourage people to create their own schisms and cabals. The reason is simple—if we foster enough schisms, then all we will be left with is a bunch of cabals with only one member (that is, leaders without followers).

Primates (a group to which we human beings belong) have a natural propensity to kowtow to the “leader” or authority of the alpha-male (even if only to an imaginary Great Silverback in the sky often obtusely referred to as “God”). Some primates eventually recognize this propensity among their kin and band together to take advantage of it, perhaps at first under the pretenses of “defense” or to “appease god”. Then, these primates begin to naturally abuse this collective power as the more manipulative psychopaths begin to vie for the status of top dog. With this top dog status comes the control of things like resources, weapons, and prisons and this collective power justifies itself with the hypnotic name “government”.

“Government” is really just an excuse used by some individuals to treat other individuals poorly.

Fortunately, there is only a finite ability for the “alphas” to enforce their authority. Research on our closest mammalian kin shows that the non-alphas (including the female primates) find clever work-arounds (see here and here and here) to the alpha’s authoritarianism.

It is for this reason I have come to find that the only kind of real anarchy that will really ever actually exist is what I’ve come to call ‘personal anarchy’; it is the anarchism that we all already practice when we disregard traffic laws when there is no law enforcement around—“no cop, no stop.”

As I’ve written elsewhere, this notion of personal anarchy is cause for optimism among liberty-types (it all depends upon what you are looking for, of course). Not only do we already have a tremendous amount of personal anarchy, it also seems that we have a functional anarchism nation-state and transnational corporation level. For example, nations/corporations don’t live under any lord or king; they either get along or go to war—or if war isn’t a bilateral choice, the nation with more guns unilaterally invades. Often the weaker nation must accept the scam of going into debt or face destruction. Regardless, always remember the lessons of our primate relatives; liberty is what you can get away with!

Classical mechanics tells us that for every action there is a reaction and so there are also rebel bands of like-minded human primates that attempt to work together to dismantle authoritarian “government” and they sometimes loosely identify themselves as “libertarians”. Since this group of primates is anti-authoritarian, “leading” them is like herding cats. This is why when a war is not between two nation-states but is actually instead an invasion by an empire against a group of indigenous people, the war becomes unwinnable because the non-alpha primates simply go “guerilla” (no pun intended. Tangentially, Robert Anton Wilson often referred to himself as a guerilla ontologist). War waged in places like Vietnam and Afghanistan testifies to the long-term futility of such efforts by invading Empires. This is why schisms aren’t such a bad thing, from a Discordian perspective. Individualism is the ultimate in decentralization and schisms are a method by which individuals decentralize. A decentralized target is harder to destroy than a concentrated one (e.g., look at the fate of the Deathstar in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope).

However, schisms aren’t a license, in my opinion, for those that sincerely seek to sell libertarianism in the marketplace of ideas to be an asshole. With rare exception, most people tend to consider assholes to be putrid, smelly repositories of bacteria and waste that are to be mostly avoided and tended to with a moist towelette or lots of lubrication. Personally, I think it is crucial to typically add the NPAP (Non-Passive Aggressive Principle) as a close corollary to the NAP (the Non-Aggressive Principle) but hey, I am Discordian after all. I mean, what authority do I have to tell you what to do? Even if you are an asshole, I am still glad to have you as a libertarian since I think it is going to take all kinds to wake people up to the myth of the state.

About Author

Jake Shannon

Jake Shannon (1973 - ) was born in Colorado and has worked in a hodgepodge of professions including "Quant" (i.e., financial mathematician), serial entrepreneur, Discordian Pope, radio talk show host, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Utah, Luchador (i.e., mexican wrestler), and Comedy Hypnotist before settling upon pursuing an unwitting vow of poverty as an independent writer, practical magician (Chaos Magick) and more importantly, as a stay-at-home dad (his greatest accomplishment by far). He currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah (which still surprises him) with his lovely wife, three bright children and three loyal dogs.

  • Derek Jude Tallman

    If you’re going to basically describe Rational Anarchy, at least give Robert Heinlein his props. 😉