Vol III – No. 22

History has furnished for us a few odd thinkers whose very ideological progenitors would be quick to dismiss them. The progenitor: anarchism – The progeny in question: archism.

‘Archist,’ like many great categories, started as a pejoritive that was then owned and deflated by the person being insulted with it, much like ‘queer.’ A satisfactory origin story would be the moment Benjamin Tucker referred to Dora Marsden as an ‘archist’ once she elucidated to him her egoist views and her subsequent acquiescence to this label.

Other thinkers followed suit, like Sidney Parker. Similar to Dora Marsden, he started out as an egoist anarchist, inspired by Max Stirner, but realized quickly that a commitment to true personal freedom would not barr one from dominating or overpowering others.

It’s not so much a negation of anarchism as it is a redefinition of its perimeters. One then sees anarchism as simply one more form of government.

Dora Marsden made her point quite clearly, to the chagrin of her bleeding heart, undercover moralist peers.

At the birth of every unit of life, there is ushered into existence — an Archist. An Archist is one who seeks to establish, maintain, and protect by the strongest weapons at his disposal, the law of his own interests; while the purpose of every church — institutions all teaching anarchism as the correct spirit in conduct — is to make men willing to assert, that though they are born and inclined archists, they OUGHT to be anarchists. This is the true meaning of the spirit of renunciation — the rock on which the Church is built. The “OUGHT” represents the installation of Conscience, that inner spiritual police set in authority by the will and the skill of the preacher. Its business is to bind the Archistic desires which would maintain and press further their own purposes in favour of the purposes of whomsoever the preacher

pleases: God: or Right: or the People: or the Anointed: or those set in Office. Whether the preacher or the individual’s desires will prevail will pivot about the strength of the

man’s individual vitality. If the man is alive, his own interests are alive, and their importance stands to him with an intense assertiveness which corresponds with the level of his own vitality, of which the strength of his own interests alone can provide a sure index. Being alive, the first living instinct is to intensify the consciousness of life, and pressing an interest is just this process of intensifying consciousness. All growing

life-forms are aggressive: “aggressive” is what growing means. Each fights for its own

place, and to enlarge it, and enlarging it is growth. And because life-forms are gregarious there are myriads of claims to lay exclusive hold upon any place. The claimants are myriad: bird, beast, plant, insect, vermin — each will assert its own sole claim on any place as long as it is permitted: as witness the pugnacity of gnat, weed, and flea: the scant ceremony of the housewife’s broom, the axe which makes a clearing, the scythe, the fisherman’s net, the slaughter-house bludgeon: all assertions of aggressive interests promptly countered by more powerful interests! The world falls to him who can take it, if instinctive action can tell us anything. [1]

These observations are quite obvious when one considers very leftist strains of anarchism, with their focus on community and staying firmly within the realm of social convention (Enlightenment values). But these observations even hold true with those obstinate of all – individualist and egoist anarchists.

They are little different than most other political entities and movements born out of human delusion. Whether it is through a democratic republic or a union of egoists, one wishes to assert one’s will over others. The egoist who considers the one type of society better than the other remains a ‘duped egoist,’ in Stirner’s sense, as it matters little that one is aware of one’s motivations to assert one’s will or if it is masked by piety or ideology. Following Stirnerite egoism to its ultimate conclusion would completely negate the anarchism to which many of Stirner’s disciples considered him a prophet. Rather, Stirner serves as a reminder of a truth that is far less political, far more intuitive and true to human perception: that all things act in their own interest, even when they act as though or believe that they do not.

These are the conclusions which ultimately led people like Parker and Marsden to adopt ‘archism.’ But, similar to online right wingers who end up in a strange love-hate relationship with the progressives and far left maniacs they loath, adopting nazi optics to rile them up even more, it can become easy to forget the essence of what is being both denied and what is being adopted.

The anarchist tends to stop short with his definition of anarchism. He will tell you it means ‘without rulers,’ which we are to believe usually means government, tyrants, dictators or anyone with a monopoly on social power or violence.

The ‘archist’ recognizes that mitigating all power above you is futile, but also that power is not evenly distributed, and that it is possible for one to acquire more, usually by taking someone else’s (might). Both of these simplify the arch part of anarchism or archism, which also means foundation or origin. A political ‘ruler’ is an important part of this, but is crude and incomplete by itself. This said, one could then see anarchism, even if unintentionally, as a current which moves against foundation and origin – ‘chaos.’

On the other hand, one could see an archist, not simply as a Redbeardian ‘might is right’ proponent, or a hedonist without aim, but rather, one who believes in foundation and order.

One has only to look at our culture and our political system to see that what we have today, while certainly a tyranny, is hardly archism in the sense of foundation and order.

We live in a culture of feelings and self adulation. As democracy proposes that our leaders ‘represent’ us, they in turn are feely and self adulating. Like children who think their parents’ sole job is to provide them with things they want, or an immature girlfriend who thinks she can turn her boyfriend into a different person, they set out – or promise – to engineer reality according to what people want, never questioning whether what they want is in line with reality. This is ultimately because they don’t like life and resent it so deeply they’d rather live in a dream than learn how it actually works.

They rule, ultimately, through a sort of refinement of chaos which always tries to squeeze order out.

Rather, chaos and order are necessary components of life, and one shouldn’t be turned into an ideology against the other.

What is needed, rather, are leaders who stand for true ‘archism,’ true foundation, and who appreciate life and order enough to allow enough spontaneity into the mix so that Hereclitean energies can keep moving.

A true ‘archist’ is not simply one who understands that living things always seek to dominate and prey on one another, but that a true foundation can be built by rising above brute force and imitating the beauty of life and nature. The ugly truth of force and the unquestionable truth of beauty need not cancel one another out, and can even enrich one another.


1. ‘The Illusion of Anarchism,’ by Dora Marsden, The Egoist, September 15, 1914