Coexistence of The Tribe and The Truth
Written by Jack Wahlquist.
Recently in a discussion on the Free State Project’s job board, I came across a few minarchists who seemed bothered that I, said anarchist, was in their presence. Even as I insisted that we maintain connections as fellow FSP members, they were convinced I was trying to “shove anarchy down their throats” like a religion. I had the strong inkling that I was being antagonistic, or coming off irritating when I meant to build connections.
It occurs to me how important it is to not let yourself get lost in little things, or stuck on black and white thinking. Regardless of morality’s black and white reality, the real world is nowhere near that. After I left many of the traditional systems and paths in society for my own way, I realized that I had severed a lot of connections and was struggling painfully to network on these new paths. People were either too busy or uninterested in the goals and projects I had before me. The long established myth that you have to change the system from the inside suddenly seemed to have some merit. But I knew, it was deeper than that.
I’ve worked for many a large retail corporation, and the larger it is the more removed corporate workers are from reality. The power of the individual becomes minuscule in the wake of such a large organization, and workers of all levels become detached from customer needs. In fact, even though it is often moral, these oversized companies mimic government inefficiency due to their size. The community would be better served by multiple smaller companies; the fame andglory of becoming an economic giant is an illusion.
So, when a group becomes too large, even if it is moral, it loses its power and becomes irrelevant to many people. Sometimes, these groups become systems. The mainstream music industry; the school system; Hollywood. If you want to maintain the positive connections and exchange of resources within a system, you have to sacrifice more and more of yourself for this system. As more goals hit the table, more people have to whitewash and generalize themselves, compromising so much that eventually nobody’s original goal is upheld. But at the other extreme, where I stood not too long ago, you have to do mostly everything yourself and it often feels like living in a cabin secluded from society.
When I finally came to the realization that seclusion was making me bored with life and people, I realized that I needed to go on the hunt. Explore the world within arm’s reach and find the people who might have the same goals as me. By luck, I found communities and groups that were hidden from the media, “zeta people” who didn’t care to join the fight to be “the best” in the public eye. They were doing their own thing, focused on each other and their families, and working viciously hard to build something that lived in their dreams. They didn’t just follow conventional paths and live half-awake. But because they weren’t connected to fame, popularity, and the general television cycle of garbage, few outsiders even knew of their existence.
But how does a community like this even form? Geography isn’t the most impacting factor. I have come across an idea about how we can actively form a community of this quality. Imagine you have connections with each person in your life, a literal line or string or bridge that connects you. Now imagine, instead of just one bridge per person, that there is one bridge per idea or type of connection. So you have 3 or 5 or even a dozen bridges per person. And then, when a disagreement happens, place it in the right bridge, and sever that one specifically. You don’t have to give up the good connections for the bad ones. We can stop treating humans like package deals, and start treating them like Christians treat the Bible. Even though I disagree with someone, I can still enjoy their company. And I know that if I alienate minarchists in the FSP I will lose a lot of potential connections.
Infighting that threatens the FSP’s core community could cause serious rifts at a fragile time. I see the Free State as a sapling growing up through concrete, and it needs our support to grow stronger. By individualizing our “bridges”, we don’t have to choose between the tribe and the truth. If I start a project towards something anarchist that minarchists in the Free State don’t support, they can refuse to donate or participate. And likewise if a minarchist does something statist, I will refuse to support or donate.
Just the other day at work, I rang up a police officer’s drink. I treated him like a human individual, because in that context he was just a customer. I connected with him on a moral plane, and was perfectly happy to support a moral choice from him. In another context, a mass boycott of interactions with police might be the perfect deterrent to getting jobs in the force (or might cause the next civil war). But at that time and place, I knew it was moral, and was not going to let anything get in the way of a voluntary exchange.