Originally published on The Free Academy.
I’d like to talk about enjoying brief moments of anarchy, and how a slight shift in perspective can help us live a freer life.
When we examine the world today, things can look pretty depressing. There are 200 nation-states out there, billions of people involved in the business of coercing others, and they’ve figured out how to use technology to kill us from afar and to watch our every move. Understanding our situation can rightfully leave us in fear, and I think this awareness weighs heavily on a lot of us free folk. But there is a way out of this negative mimdset, and we don’t even have to overthrow the state to achieve it. All we have to do is learn how to control our attention.
You see, our attention guides our perception of reality. What we focus on determines our experience. When we focus our attention on coercion, we see coercion. I think this is the double-edged sword of our awareness of aggression. We need to be able to recognize evil in order to fight it, but now that I know how to look for it, I do look for it, and I see it all over the place. But seeing coercion all the time isn’t a fun way to live. And it’s not representative of the Real World either. I have to be aware of my selection bias, and counteract it by focusing my attention on what’s actually happening around me.
When I step back and examine my immediate surroundings, very rarely do I witness any aggression. Coercion is an outlier. Of course, the State’s aggression is systemic and the threat is always there, but I believe we need to learn to deal with the threats when they are present and forget the State as much as possible in between. We must learn to see that the government only exists in Temporary Coercive Zones, little bubbles of Statism that surround cops and judges and other government employees, but for the most part the world is free and open.
I believe anarchy is a form of meditation. It’s not a type of society, or a place on Earth, and it never lasts more than a moment. Anarchy exists only in the present, never stretching into the 4th dimension. Moments of anarchy are like singular points of light, little supernovas of freedom that only last a second. Moments of anarchy are beautiful to behold, but there’s no point trying to sustain them, we must learn to simply enjoy the ride. Now that I know how to look for them, I see people riding moments of anarchy all over the place. And it’s contagious. Kids and dogs especially know the joy of moments of freedom, and it’s hard not to feel freer myself when I watch a dog playing or a child learning. But somehow, many of the brightest humans, those most aware of the suffering around them, have forgotten how to live in the moment. By focusing on the past, future, and distant suffering of others, we inflict suffering on ourselves. This suffering is also contagious. To free ourselves and those around us, we must practice anarchy by immersing ourselves in moments of freedom. With this perspective I see a free world, and a bright future.