Those of us who have been in the liberty movement for 30 or more years have always worried that the movement would die a slow death as the state rolled over us. Like many others, I rejoice that young people are finally embracing it and even making money on it in some cases. This is so typical. The founders of the movement—people like Lysander Spooner, Benjamin Tucker, Ludwig von Mises (not an anarchist, but on the trail), and Murray Rothbard, who literally gave birth to the heart of the movement in the 20th century—all lived in virtual ignominy or simply unknown and uncelebrated by society at large. Those who come when the popularity-phase curve takes off are there to reap the rewards, often without giving a nod to those who carved the path.
…And Sometimes Forget the Basics
Parents, however, are often horrified by the behavior of their children, and those of us who came to libertarianism as a result of a deep concern for ethics and devoted many years educating ourselves by reading about and studying the idea of liberty before writing articles about in the pre-Web world (and later) can justifiably be terrified by the disdain for serious study—or even basic understanding—shown by many of the young people who have come into the movement and are now mass-merchandising it. I wish them luck. Their approach, however, is often sloppy, and this causes concern in many of us who were so careful about understanding the meaning, history, and significance of liberty. We had to live with constant dismissal by government-lovers “who knew better and could safely ignore us.” When I attended university, Ayn Rand was on the level of pornography in an academic institution. While some of the new generation—like Scott Horton and the wonderful crew at Antiwar.com do amazing work that really has an impact, some of the newer crew seem actually hostile to knowledge about the roots of the very words they use. Some of them cannot even be bothered to look a word up in a dictionary—even though they are arguing about its meaning.
Earlier today, I was listening to a podcast of the FreedomFeens, and while I liked their no-holds-barred style, it was clear upon listening to this undated podcast that Neema Vedadi and Michael Dean had never even so much as looked up the word "anarchy." They were actually talking about looking it up during the broadcast after they had been using it in this podcast and in many previous ones. These, sadly, are sometimes an example of the new proponents of liberty.
…And Show a Preference for Remaining Unstained by Knowledge
To help them out, I sent the following letter to Michael so that he would understand the word “anarchy” and in particular understand why Professor Murray Rothbard selected it in an attempt to rehabilitate it—by focusing on its etymological meaning—in order to combat the historical takeover of the term by leftist-socialists and bomb-throwers in Europe. How was my letter handled?
First read the letter (below). Then listen to how Michael Dean, Bill Buppert, and Ben Stone (Bad Quaker) proceeded to make up words and stuff them into my mouth while neglecting the entire context of the letter, without reading it in full, or attempting to understand its purpose. It’s the equivalent of lying. All this despite the fact that I attempted to show my appreciation of his work thus far and my attempt at humor (at the close of the letter) by referring to my now-ancient graduate degree and fellowship and coupling it with a self-deprecating set of titles to show I have a sense of humor.
------------------TEXT OF THE LETTER----------------
The world is a better place because of your podcasts, and when I speak to Randy England next time, I’ll mention this letter to him (he’s a personal acquaintance of mine). You are also a perfectionist about audio quality—which is why, when I buy a microphone, it will be an Audiotechnica USV 2005 as you recommend. Because of this perfectionist/purity streak, you should want to know the precise meaning of the word anarchy in an etymological sense. It is the root of your life philosophy, and you should know it front and back. The topic pervades every show, and on one of them, you devoted the entire podcast to its definition after having had an argument with some lefty snot called “cupcake” or something like that (can’t remember).
“Anarchy” Means “No Dictator” – Period!
Cupcake wanted to put his preferred spin on the word by freezing it in its 19th-century meaning as semi-socialist-backdoor-government-licking bomb-thrower-wanna-be- badass. That is indeed one meaning, and it applies to those who follow the 19th-century European history of the word and want to perpetuate that flawed meaning here in America. But Murray Rothbard helped to restore its original meaning by going back to its authentic roots in the Greek language. You should know these roots, too. It’s easier to remember and more powerful than you realize. If a word is the heart and soul of your life philosophy, it pays to look it up in a good dictionary (the OED is best) and doing a bit of digging—not from guys like Ben Stone and Jeffrey Tucker or others who inject their own spin and ignorance. You should KNOW. Since you reach a decent-sized audience, its meaning will propagate. Hail the Feens!
Here’s the meaning in its simplest form from the Greek origins, and although I am a medievalist and a Latin expert, I am familiar with some Greek usage.
Anarchy derives from the Greek word “archon” plus the prefix “a.”
Archon simply means “ruler.” That’s it. You may want to go further and say “dictator,” which is defensible—and very powerful when you want to dig a knife deeper into your opponent to make room for the brain worm.
The prefix “a/an” in Greek means “no” or “not.” It signifies negation.
Put it together for yourself:
Anarchon = No ruler or no dictator (the negation of the idea of a ruler)
Anarchy = No ruler
This is the powerful, deep-digging brain worm you seek. As you can see, it is very simple and clear and memorable! You can expound on it in any way you wish after you know this fundamental fact, but this always should be the basis of your definition. That’s why Professor Murray Rothbard was so devoted to it and re-defined “anarchy” and restored it to its oldest meaning, its original meaning, its true historical meaning—a meaning that is older than the pseudo anarchists of the left can ever claim. And you should know it because they and others will continue to badger you on the issue in the future. This will shut them the fuck up. It will also shut up those right-wing squares that want the word to mean “chaos,” which is something that governments create, not something that the spontaneous order creates.
Here’s some more historical poop on the word and its meaning in its most ancient form. This, too, will shut down those lefties who want to define it as if it were their personal property. It’s not.
The word archon (ruler/dictator) came about in ancient Greek social development when the Greek form of government transitioned from a monarchy (rule/dictatorship of one) to an oligarchy (rule/dictatorship of a few). Traditional ancient Greek history tells us (an anthropologist may disagree with tradition) that the Greek kingship had grown weak, and the upper-crust aristocracy took over.
An aristocracy (which means rule of the “best” because aristos is the Greek word for best) gradually took over the powers of the king (basileios)—introducing aristocratic rule. They took on the “ruling” role and used terms such as these as they acted like the dictators they were:
Polemarchos (ruler of war, like a commander-in-chief); this is where the founders get that crap as they were all students of Latin and Greek and their related history.
Archon eponymos (something “named after the ruler” because in Greek records, the year of the event was recorded under the name of the archon ruling that year, like “in the year of Jimmy’s reign” just as in the Bible and in Roman records people say “in the first year of the consulship of XXX or in the first year of Justinian’s reign.
Anyway, the word “archon” is, as you can see, always connected with the idea of dictatorship and war and violence and brutality and bossing people around—a failure to negotiate and convince people to cooperate with you on a peaceful basis, which is what we are all about. So many stupid lefties get a contact-high by pimping off of this violent meaning. They are bad-ass wanna-bes, just like middle class white kids all wanna be badass and take upon themselves the behavior and speech of ghetto rappers and gangstas. But that’s because they feel guilty about being raised by responsible adults who provided for their children instead of moronic neglectful welfare parents. Anyone who grew up in that atmosphere doesn’t really want to go back to that.
So next time some lefty wants to retain the relatively recent newbie 19th-century meaning of European anarchism by injecting their worship of statism and socialism and bomb-throwing and nanny-statism, you can tell them they are simply preserving the OPPOSITE MEANING OF “ANARCHY,” WHICH MEANS “NO DICTATOR.”
Just as you go to legal experts like Randy to discuss law, you should go to real historians and linguists for the meaning of words. Guys like Jeffrey Tucker and Ben Stone are good at what they do, but they also will talk out of their asses (and not admit it) because their vanity trips them up. Get the knowledge straight from a reliable source, not a lightweight.
I’m taking this time because I’ve spent about 30 years writing about this (pre-Internet and Internet), and it’s important to me that you and Neema get it right. I think I came to the right person in you because I know you like to get it “right,” too.
Lawrence M. Ludlow
M.A., Duke of Connaught Fellow
University of Toronto
Centre for Medieval Studies and Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies
Medievalist, Anarchist, Parakeet-Lover, Feen
-------------------END OF LETTER TEXT---------------------------
Now here’s the link to the October 18 broadcast:
Sometimes We Throw Up Our Hands
In carrying on like this, those three creatures proved my point. Ben Stone’s pulled-out-of-the-ass definitions of anarchy at the beginning of the show say it all—and completely validate my point—even though they deny that they ever said such a thing because I didn’t bother to quote them. This was unnecessary since they spout this kind of thing with regularity and, indeed, did so again on this broadcast. Ben Stone thinks anarchy is whatever he thinks it feels like to him at this moment with no roots at all. And Buppert, rather than confront the text, chose to go down a side-trail and discuss the inutility of the word “anarchy”—which, like “libertarian,” and “capitalism,” is freighted with bad press. This is why people like me fear for the movement at times. I thought I had extended a hand, and it is bitten off. And lies are substituted afterward. To top it off, the humorous signoff, meant to get a laugh, did not even register as a joke with these troglodytes. They actually thought I still was an academic because I used the word "fellowship" toward the end. But knowing something would require knowing what a fellowship is--a type of scholarship and nothing more. Oy vey! We have met the enemy, and it is us. What is particularly saddening is that neither Michael Dean, Bill Buppert, or Bad Quaker has yet apologized--even though their deliberate lies have been brought up to them by others. This kind of moral cowardice is disgusting--especially since Michael can be such a crybaby and demand "equal time" to retort when others criticize him justifiably. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, eh?