Aquarian Anarchy

Now for the new political position hinted at in my Russell Brand entries, profusely hyperlinked for your encyclopedic pleasure:

Aquarian Anarchy, or Aquarianarchy

Aquarianarchy (A-kwé-ri-ₔ-nár-kee): Rule by a bunch of idealist, neo-hippie waifs in communal forms of organization, suited to the forthcoming Age of Aquarius, with a little extra “anarchy” thrown in at the end.

Aquarianarchy recapitulates 1960s liberalism into a new political position that is outside the present left-right axis, a third pole if you will, with an eye on the progressive ideal of a society that is post-materialist, open, uninhibited, comfortable with diversity and rich in human contact.

Aquarianarchy stands apart from today’s conservative economic and social vision via its critique of capitalism (Taxes, Private Property, and the Age of Aquarius; Luddites and Technophobes) and of the Republican Party platform (Who’s for the Middle Class).

Aquarianarchy stands apart from conservative conventions in lifestyle and social and professional behavior (Fashion Anarchy, Professionalism and Alienation).

Aquarianarchy incorporates some long-term tenets of libertarianism while acknowledging their short-term impracticality (From Fashion Anarchy to German Socialism).

Aquarianarchy stands apart from those post-1980s liberal strategies that divide rather than unify. This means rethinking the liberal framing of race and gender (White Privilege and a Third Way on Race, How the Left Ceded the Moral High Ground, Female Chauvinist Pigs), the liberal acceptance of double standards for underdog groups (Ban Bossy), and a policing instinct that stifles expression by encouraging self-censorship and shaming for every perceived offence (Is “Where Are You From” Offensive, How the Left Ceded the Moral High Ground).

Aquarianarchy also begins to articulate ethical parameters for a post-capitalist age (Regifting and Post-Technological Ethics).

Overall, Aquarianarchy draws most on the pre-1980s liberals of the hippie and post-hippie era. Remove all conventional chains on speech, self-expression, and modes of social organization. Basically, if it breaks down binaries and demographic walls and foregrounds our shared humanness, if it encourages unfiltered free expression without fear of faux pas or shaming, if it welcomes those who disagree as well as those who agree with us to the table, if it promotes a vision that steers our tottering planet away from “jittery materialism” (Brand, p. 106) toward a sustainable ecology and human values, it’s part of the general plan.

And that “little extra anarchy” I promised comes at the expense (superficially at least) of some of my liberal brothers and sisters. I.e., against current liberal trends that subtly reinforce a “separate but equal” ideology, Aquarianarchy re-seizes the full integrationist torch of the 60s with an anarchist vigor, advocating every form of cultural appropriation in every direction. Think of it as the cultural correlative of private property. Bust open the cultural lockboxes and play with each other’s stuff, continually wear the other’s shoes – black, white, female, male, every ethnicity and sexual orientation – incorporate, collaborate, and share a laugh when cultural cross-pollination becomes clumsy, as it often will. Distrust any form of liberalism (or conservatism) that says we need to respect walls of separation. Bust the whole thing wide open.  I think that little bit of anarchy is prerequisite to the revolutionary change we need when the current age collapses.

A final note on process: It bears repeating that this revolution must begin in the subjective arena of human sensibility, with restructuring in the political arena as a consequence. People must (1) take time for meditation and practices of self-reflection, if possible read things by Gandhi and the Dalai Lama, visualize your inner values shifting toward something commensurate with a post-materialist age; (2) begin to express these inner changes locally, in everyday choices, from supporting others in fashion anarchy to regifting; (3) then comes the political restructuring based on planetary sustainability and post-materialist values of human fulfillment. If during this process Arc #1 gets ahead of Arc #2, or Arc #2 gets ahead of Arc #3, not a problem. But if the political restructuring of Arc #3 gets out ahead, we’ll need to stop and revisit those cautionary checks from Gandhi (Chauri Chaura incident) and from The Beatles and The Who, as per my letter to Russell Brand. Let’s do this right and not get fooled again. After all, what with those “ecological imperatives” of which Russell speaks, we might not have another chance.

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11 thoughts on “Aquarian Anarchy

  1. “People must,” indeed. But people tend to refuse, often just to get your goat. People run from good ideas like “believers” run from the Devil. (Actually the Devil WAS a good idea, so you see what I mean?)

    A modest example, courtesy of the Kinkster:

    Walkin’ down Division Street
    I happened on to meet
    A stranger with a package in his hand.

    He said, ‘Mister, if you’ll follow me,
    Rainbow colors you will see.
    I’ll take your head into the Promised Land.’

    Friend, I don’t need your stuff,
    My Jesus is enough.
    You see them colors bright,
    Why can’t you see the Light?

    Let’s get high on Jesus, high on Jesus.
    I believe that He is here in town.
    Flyin’ high on Jesus, high on Jesus,
    I’m so high I’m never comin’ down.

    Division Street is a crowded place where ideas rise and fall…the only constant is contrariness.

    Still, Aquarianarchy is my Word of the Day. My compliments, Your Lex-ishness!

    Liked by 1 person

    • People must … people should … but people tend to refuse. That’s why we need a tidal change in human sensibility for the next revolution to work. Human nature in its current historical form – where amassing private property, etc., is the base form of self-actualization – won’t support the kind of revolution we need if we’re going to get on a sustainable planetary course. Thanks, Chris. And thanks for bringing in a few verses from that old (and politically peculiar) Austin musician-prophet.

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  2. Gary,
    In reading your missive I am reminded of Gandhi’s Satyagraha and his desire for people to have personal moral transformation which, once accomplished, would then lead to political transformation. Several of your thoughts are similar to those he espoused. From the anti-materialist to the post capitalist etc. (he wanted them to reject modernity and use the charkha (spinning wheel) and make their own clothes. And by his own account he failed miserably at getting people to understand much less implement the moral change, because while people understood the need for the end game—political change; get rid of the Raj—they never understood the moral component of what he advocated (or wanted to do the hard work of implementation). People don’t know themselves except superficially as the “happy idiot struggling for the legal tender” and most don’t want to (or do not have the tools to dive that deep) and you, like Gandhi, are asking them to first “know thyself”. I applaud the effort and agree whole heartedly with you, but suspect you will get as much traction as he did. But do not go gently, and keep up the fight. So what do you envision as precipitating this revolution? What will cause people to be reflective in the way you espouse; to change their “evil ways”? MTT

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    • Hi Michael,
      I understand your point and give it some weight. I believe a paradigm shift will be precipitated by ecological tipping points on resources and climate change, by exponential wealth inequality, and hopefully some collective evolution in consciousness. The 3rd point is the only one in doubt, and my optimism is bundled with a contradictory fear that you might be right. As I said, the paradigm shift will come – especially in light of the 1st point (ecological imperatives) – but I don’t really know if the end game is utopic or dystopic. But I think that if enough of us follow John Lennon’s lead and relentlessly “imagine” the utopic possibility, maybe collective visualization will leak into collective consciousness and a new sun will rise when the present age sets. So, as you say, I will not go gentle into ….

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      • So here is s sidelight to think about. You need a “collective evolution in consciousness.” Fair enough. But presently technology has become part of our evolution. Indeed recent studies have indicated that its use is altering brain patterns as people tend to use certain parts of their brains less (which atrophy) and instead rely on the technology to do it. I’m not claiming, as Rousseau, that it is all bad. Gandhi clearly thought it was. Limited though technology was in those days he preferred the spinning wheel to manufactured clothes and thought the latter took man away from his ability to be moral etc. To my untrained eye, and this is a generalization, technology has allowed people to become even more shallow and less reflective than they were before (if that is possible). No need to think deeply anymore because the tech gadget can find me the answer.
        But let me know when the revolution starts and I’ll be Bakunin to your Mazzini. MTT

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  3. Overall, I agree that gadgetry has made us less reflective. Gadgetry (e.g., social networking gadgetry) also gives new possibilities for decentralized modes of organization (lowering the risk that centralized power poses for any revolution). Technology more generally has perhaps reached a point where “the production and distribution of resources can easily accommodate the entire world population, were it not for the intransigent barriers of politics and the primacy of private property as a paradigm for self-actualization” (“Taxes, Private Property, and the Age of Aquarius”). Or where we can quickly reduce our remaining resources to rubble to serve the short-term pleasure of the 1%. All is not won but all is not lost. I agree on your point about our diminishing reflective nature, but I think that too could change quickly with the right triggers. I’m not all optimism but think there are grounds for some optimism. And I still feel morally obligated to locate and maximize those grounds. Does that make me an “absurd hero” of the existentialist sort?

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  4. Interesting question. It does not strike me as being the philosophy of an absurd existentialist hero, though there is definitely a bit of Don Quixote’s quixotic tilting at windmills in it. Would Gandhi qualify as an absurd hero? Or MLK? I don’t think so. Pursuing something which appears unattainable for altruistic reasons does not strike me as absurd, otherwise much that is motivated by charitable/selfless purposes would be so. But perhaps we can distinguish between a desire for a better world (the Gautier doctrine), no matter how unlikely (the Tusa pessimistic codicil); and fooling oneself with Kierkegaardian leaps of faith (the absurd) and cultivated ignorance (Aquinas). So perhaps I’ll be Pancho Villa to your Quixote, though I’d rather be Bakunin. Let me know when the journey starts.

    I agree that technology is not all bad (though I sometimes miss the days when we did these discussions by long letters) but I don’t see it as helping generate the reflectiveness you desire. It may lessen the power of totalitarians in one sense, but it strikes me as part and parcel of the less literate/anti-intellectual society we now have. It allows absolutely stupidity into the marketplace of ideas on the same level with the reflectiveness you pursue. And it allows other morons to rally around the stupid flag.
    MTT

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