Anarchy, why not?

I write almost every day and do this with pleasure. I could have written everything for myself but posting it on a blog forces me to write it with the knowledge that it might be read. What you can read on this page is my first attempt to put what I write in the form of a book. This will be challenging for me because I usually write without knowing where I go. This is why I try this format; I hope it helps me focus my attention on a goal further away than the hunch of the day. I write about anarchism not because I am especially attached to it; it is more of a vehicle to talk about the underlying chaos in the world and the attempt of us people to cover that nagging knowledge up. It is an attempt, and I hope I have the patience to alter chapters and paragraphs when needed and have the skill to bring some order in the chaos…that is my mind.

I have a lot of notes underneath each “chapter.” The notes, and especially the links to websites, are not helpful in an actual book, but they function more like notes for me for when I want to dive deeper into a specific subject. Some of these notes link to pages where you can spend hours reading. I mostly read the introduction/conclusion and assume the rest is more explanation and will not alter the introduction in any substantial way. I have a regular full-time job, and that’s why I don’t have the luxury of doing proper research on every statement I make. I also try to write with the knowledge that I have gathered over the years, as an example: in the second chapter, I write about DNA or genes that have their own plan and don’t care so much about the host they live in. I knew that I read about that concept somewhere and spent some time searching for it on the web until I bumped into the famous book of  Richard Dawkins, The selfish gene. But like most books, this attempt of a book is also a repackaging of older knowledge. I only hope that my approach is somewhat new and who knows what kind of conclusion I bump into.


Introduction

First, something about anarchy. When most people think of anarchy, they think of lawlessness and political disorder. In the Standford Encyclopedia of philosophy1, you can read in the introduction: Anarchism is a political theory, which is skeptical of the justification of authority and power, especially political power. Anarchism is usually grounded in moral claims about the importance of individual liberty. Anarchists also offer a positive theory of human flourishing, based upon an ideal of non-coercive consensus building. Anarchism has inspired practical efforts at establishing utopian communities, radical and revolutionary political agendas, and various forms of direct action… At this moment, I am not so interested in the political side of anarchism. There are countless forms of anarchism, sometimes also called libertarianism2, and like with all political tastes, they all claim some unique knowledge on how the world should be organized based on their conception of what the world is.   

Where does the word anarchy come from? The word comes from ancient Greek3 anarchos and means “without a ruler.” The terms anarchy and anarchism are in more modern times used to depict chaotic situations in societies, for example, during wars, revolutions, and protests. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, anarchy was still primarily used as a synonym for chaos, but when a plurality of different political groups was formed, anarchists were amongst them. They used the name anarchy because they looked for a form of government without a ruler or ruling group.

Anarchy is still associated mainly with chaos (in society) these days. If you say that you are an anarchist, you better explain that you strive for a (world) community where people rule themselves, and a mutual understanding of life’s goals is understood.  You can also say that you are a libertarian, it is a synonym for anarchist, but in the United States, the libertarian party has hijacked that name for their laissez-faire capitalism4 and lack of social responsibility. There are many forms of anarchism, and though I don’t want to align myself with one or the other, by stating my goals, I automatically position myself, if only in the camp of the none aligned. I don’t call myself an anarchist; I do this only if someone askes me, and I like to shock them or if I just want to be honest. What I want to argue is that we all live in chaos and thus anarchy. The universe started  13 billion years ago with chaos5 as one of its main drivers, which still drives us all and our society. 

My goal in is to argue that we live in a chaotic world, and we have to find a new way to live with this notion. One thing we all are “forced” to do is to live in a box of values and opinions. Like I wrote earlier, I don’t want to align myself to any one group, but because I live in a society, I will be automatically put in a box of non-aligned people if I stubbornly refuse to choose, if I like it or not. I think that this habit of us (or our society) to battle the underlying chaos by putting a layer of order and organization on top of it is worth an examination. 

  1.  https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/anarchism/
  2. Libertarianism is a family of views in political philosophy. Libertarians strongly value individual freedom and see this as justifying strong protections for individual freedom.From: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/libertarianism/ 
  3. 1530s, "absence of government," from French anarchie or directly from Medieval Latin anarchia, from Greek anarkhia "lack of a leader, the state of people without a government" (in Athens, used of the Year of Thirty Tyrants, 404 B.C., when there was no archon). From: https://www.etymonline.com/word/anarchy
  4. Laissez-faire, (French: “allow to do”) policy of minimum governmental interference in the economic affairs of individuals and society. From: https://www.britannica.com/topic/laissez-faire
  5. The universe was in chaos after the Big Bang kick-started the cosmos, a new study suggests. While one might expect the explosion that began the universe to wreak some havoc, scientists mean something very specific when they refer to chaos. In a chaotic system, small changes can cause large-scale effects: From: https://www.space.com/9255-big-bang-moment-pure-chaos-study-finds.html

Chapter 1: A perspective, it’s not about us humans.

Scientific theory vs. opinion.

First, something about science: there is often confusion when people read about the “theory” of evolution or the “theory” of gravity; some think it is just an idea of what these scientists have and that it is no problem to disagree with them. This is a common misconception between scientific theories and the theories we all have in our life about mundane subjects. You can have a theory of why milk was spilled on the floor or who was to blame for that car accident, but that is more an opinion you have. A scientist can have opinions, but their theories are tested by others, and till another scientist, using the scientific method1, can prove them wrong, they are treated as the truth.

Gravity is a good example. Everybody knew already that objects fall down, and over the ages, they speculated about it, and there were a lot of opinions that could not be tested yet. In the 16th century, Galilei disproved ancient believes that objects of different weights fall at different speeds. He had a thought experiment and tested it in the real world by dropping different objects simultaneously from a tower and seeing what happens. This experiment can easily be repeated, but it does not prove gravity yet; it just proved that all solid objects arrive at the ground at the same time regardless of the weight. Later, scientists calculated these forces more accurately, and they started to make predictions; they formed a hypothesis wherein they predicted the position of certain planets using their calculations. If these planets would appear at a specific place at a particular time according to the hypothesis2, you can see that as proof that their calculations are correct. Other scientists can use these same methods and see if they get the same results; this way, you can make sure no mistakes were made in the first tests. This is, in short, an example of the scientific method.

You can see now that your theory, or hypothesis, of why the milk was spilled is different from a scientific theory about gravity. The main difference is that you can never test who spilled the milk during the night; you can only assume that it was the cat. This example is not so dangerous, but if you look at medicine tested by different scientists (peer-review3) and so-called alternative medicine that is only based on the opinion that it works and so-called anecdotal evidence4, not because it is tested independently. A side note, many people, distrust so-called “big pharma” because they are In it for the money. I agree that these big companies are doing their capitalistic duty slavishly by making as much profit as possible, but so do all these alternative medicine producers. Selling snake oil is big business too.

If I now tell you that the big bang5, where our observable universe was “born,” happened 13.8 billion years ago, you have to understand that this number is the one that most scientists agree with. The simplest way I can explain what the scientist did is that they measured the speed and direction of the stars6 you see in the sky. If you calculate these directions, including acceleration and speed, you can then reverse these directions they are now going, and you will find out where every star started. It’s like filming a ball rolling on the floor and playing it backward; you will see that it ends where you pushed the ball. It turned out that all the stars also started at the same time at the same point, which was the big bang.  

Start of “life.”

After the big bang, everything started to move and move. It took billions of years before our sun, a tiny star, was formed around 4.6 billion years ago. Because of gravity and its effects on everything, our sun has collected large amounts of fuel and debris that circles it. This debris starts to attract more debris, and this process slowly forms the planets in our solar system. It only took a mere hundred million years before our earth took its shape as we know it now. This debris turned rock was still an inhabitable place, but after another five hundred million years, early life was formed on planet earth. All I have written now in a few sentences is much more complex and endlessly interesting; I recommend reading about it yourself.

Scientists have tried for many years the different ways life could have started. There is some consensus but no definite answers; laboratory tests have shown that what you could call life can spontaneously appear in the atmosphere of an early planet or in hydrothermal vents in the sea. But, life did start, and one thing that life needs is a form of an archive of what that specific life form has done up to that point. This “archive” is necessary for the next lifeforms because it tells what they suppose to do, like grow a limb here and an eye there.  We now call this archive DNA7, but you also have RNA8 and genes; there is much more to know about this than I can ever tell.

Calling DNA just an archive is oversimplifying it, of course, but I do it for the sake of my argument. You can find DNA from the beginning in all living things, and through natural selection, it will spread itself, and that’s how it eventually also ended in us. DNA is the one constant, and if one host disappears, it has already nestled itself in many others. Our DNA has traces of ancestors that lived millions of years ago, and through us, we carry their “knowledge” forewards. DNA is not a living being; if you could lay DNA on a table, it would not move away and start inventing things.

Suppose that life started, like I suggest, not with a plan but just because circumstances made it possible. What is then the purpose of life? We as humans have all kinds of religious and philosophical ideas about that but try to step in the shoes of the first tiny cells that popped to live in our ancient atmosphere. These cells just appeared, and they didn’t want anything; they just multiplied over and over again till they ended up like us, a thinking collection of cells and DNA. You can think of humans what you want, but they are probably the best hosts for DNA. The world will end one day with all the DNA attached to it, but these humans that are host for the “smartest” DNA are already planning to leave this planet and look for other places…for their DNA, so to say, to prosper more, far away from a swollen sun9. I guess the DNA in a kangaroo can be pretty jealous of that.

This idea of genes (DNA) having their own “plan” is not new. One of the most influential books of the 20th century, The selfish gene by Richard Dawkins, goes about this in much more detail and with even more authority than I ever can.

“Individuals are not stable things, they are fleeting. Chromosomes too are shuffled into oblivion, like hands of cards soon after they are dealt. But the cards themselves survive the shuffling. The cards are the genes. The genes are not destroyed by crossing-over, they merely change partners and march on. Of course they march on. That is their business. They are the replicators and we are their survival machines. When we have served our purpose we are cast aside. But genes are denizens of geological time: genes are forever.” Richard Dawkins, The selfish gene

  1. scientific method, mathematical and experimental technique employed in the sciences. More specifically, it is the technique used in the construction and testing of a scientific hypothesis. From: https://www.britannica.com/science/scientific-method See also: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-method/
  2. A hypothesis is an assumption, an idea that is proposed for the sake of argument so that it can be tested to see if it might be true. From https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypothesis#note-1
  3. Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work. From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peer_review
  4. Anecdotal evidence is a factual claim relying only on personal observation, collected in a casual or non-systematic manner. From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anecdotal_evidence or from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anecdotal%20evidence evidence in the form of stories that people tell about what has happened to them.
  5. The Big Bang Theory is the leading explanation about how the universe began. At its simplest, it says the universe as we know it started with an infinitely hot, infinitely dense singularity, then inflated — first at unimaginable speed, and then at a more measurable rate — over the next 13.8 billion years to the cosmos that we know today. From: https://www.space.com/25126-big-bang-theory.html
  6. In 1929 Hubble published his first paper on the relationship between redshift and distance. He tentatively concluded that there is a linear redshift-distance relationship; that is, if one galaxy is twice as far away as another, its redshift is twice as large. Two years later Hubble and Humason presented what astronomers and cosmologists widely judged to be very convincing evidence that the relationship is indeed linear and hence that a galaxy's redshift is directly proportional to its distance. From: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Edwin-Hubble see also: Hubble provided evidence that the recessional velocity of a galaxy increases with its distance from the Earth, a property now known as "Hubble's law", despite the fact that it had been both proposed and demonstrated observationally two years earlier by Georges Lemaître. The Hubble–Lemaître law implies that the universe is expanding. From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Hubble
  7. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person's body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA)… From: https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/basics/dna/ and: The chemical DNA was first discovered in 1869, but its role in genetic inheritance was not demonstrated until 1943. In 1953 James Watson and Francis Crick, aided by the work of biophysicists Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, determined that the structure of DNA is a double-helix polymer, a spiral consisting of two DNA strands wound around each other. The breakthrough led to significant advances in scientists' understanding of DNA replication and hereditary control of cellular activities. From: https://www.britannica.com/science/DNA
  8. Ribonucleic acid (RNA) is a molecule similar to DNA. Unlike DNA, RNA is single-stranded. From: https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/RNA-Ribonucleic-Acid and: All living things reproduce, copying their genetic material and passing it on to their offspring. Thus, the ability to copy the molecules that encode genetic information is a key step in the origin of life — without it, life could not exist. This ability probably first evolved in the form of an RNA self-replicator — an RNA molecule that could copy itself. From: https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/side_0_0/origsoflife_04
  9. The most probable fate of the planet is absorption by the Sun in about 7.5 billion years, after the star has entered the red giant phase and expanded beyond the planet's current orbit. From: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_of_Earth

Why meaning.

Evolution theory plays a significant role in why we religiously look for meaning. One of the main principles of evolution theory is the survival of the fittest. Fittest, or sometimes also called strongest, is somewhat of a mistake made by Darwin. For predators, it can be advantageous to be fit and strong, and the same goes for the gazelle, but most gazelles will probably survive because they are skittish. You could say that most animals’ best survival strategy is to run away at the first sign of danger; even the Lyon will be wise to run away once it knows of the threat a man with a gun can be. Darwin should have called his theory: survival of the scariest.   

The earliest multicellular organisms were probably already fleeing away for the first sign of danger, giving this trade through the consecutive evolutions to the birds who still fly away when they hear a sound they can’t place. It is an evolutionary advantage for an animal to run away when it perceives danger. If it was curious, it might be caught and eaten; this adventure’s behavior is bound to die out; only the animals that hear a strange noise and react by fleeing have a good chance to live and procreate. This reaction to noises, smells, and sight slowly turned into patterns. When a twig breaks, underbrush moves, and a dark shadow appears, and the eyes of a predator open, a pattern is born: broken twig = uncertainty =  predator. In reality, the sound of a broken twig was seldom followed by a predator, but the scared animal still reacted as if there was an animal because it reacted to a learned and inherited pattern.

This habit of translating more complex circumstances, like living in constant danger in a jungle, into simpler patterns is the reason why the earlies man started to believe that there were “Gods” in the sky. They thought that lighting striking a tree was similar to them making a spark with flint to light a fire. This is because the simple pattern is: I hit a flint, and a spark follows when you then see lighting coming from the sky, and it makes a fire; the simple pattern tells you that someone strikes a flint in the sky and makes a fire. We now know why there is lightning, and we can also describe in minute detail how an arm works and how it moves and grips a flint etc etc.  We now understand, or we can learn to understand if we want to, a lot of forces in nature and the reasons why things happen, but we also still have this pattern-seeking habit in us.

So, we know that we live in a complicated world where we try to find meaning, like the bird in a thick and overwhelming jungle. Because it is hard to see the meaning In this overload of information, we dissect it, so to say, in easier-to-understand pieces and translate that into a pattern we can handle. This dissecting of reality that faces you happens without reasons; it just happens, for the same reason, the bird flees when it hears a noise. The reality is that we all “simplify” the world around us, not because we are ignorant, but because it is our first reaction to life.

We see patterns because the animal that doesn’t take the time to find out where the sound comes from but just flees will survive and give this habit to their offspring. We more modern people have not evolved much further than that instinctive reaction, but when the first philosophers in India and Greece woke up, human life turned a corner. The philosophers were curious and went out looking for that proverbial dangerous sound they heard. They found out that their society was by then so evolved that they were literally safe for predators outside the gates. These philosophers slowly dethroned the many gods in the sky till the modern scientist no longer have any use for a supernatural explanation for what happens in nature.

But scientists can explain more and more reasons “how” we are here, but they still have a problem with “why” we are here. This is not a problem for most scientists because when you can look past the fear that comes with searching for a why and start seeing how wonderful nature works, you will realize that you don’t need this “why.” The reality is that there is no reason why we are here; life has no meaning besides the one we give it ourselves.


Does beauty need a reason

You jump up and swiftly swipe your hands where you felt it crawl; a tiny, harmless spider moves away, you wonder why this made you scared. This reaction to spiders and snakes is a classic example of a fear we inherited from our ancient forefathers. It can still be helpful if you find yourself wondering in a tropical jungle, but for most humans living today, in cities and urban areas, this fear of harmless spiders and other small insects is not rational. 

Evolution and adjustments to new circumstances take time. On an evolutionary time scale, humans have just arrived and are still new. Our brain, how we think, and what we need have changed little in these roughly 3 million years that our closest ancestors started reflecting on their thoughts. We modern humans (homo sapiens) are descendants of these first humanlike apes, the Australopithecus Africanus, from these first transitionary species until today spans roughly 3 million years. For most of this time, our ancestors were not on top of the food chain like we are for the last few thousand years. For millions of years, life was dangerous and hard, and feeling fear played a significant role in our development from one human species to another1.

I concluded before that one of the side effects of this “old brain” is the belief in Gods and other supernatural forces; this belief seems to be a necessary tool to keep away the nagging feeling of a life with no structure, patterns, and purposes. My answer to the disappearance of a reason for life is that life is beautiful in itself and that the need for purpose no longer needs to be fulfilled.

Let’s say that life started when the big bang started. There are many discussions on how the big bang started or even if it is the cause of this all; that is beside the point. I try to do a philosophical experiment, and the details are not so important in such an experiment. For now, we assume that it started, and in all likelihood, it started not deliberately or, better said: necessary. Some say that the laws of nature as we know them now were not “born” yet, so maybe saying that it started in chaos is an understatement. This moment of chaos or unpredictability is hard to imagine, but I can give an example that might show how I see it. If I go outside in light rain and stretch my hand out with my palm showing up, I can expect some raindrops to hit my open hand, but if I concentrate where the first drop falls, I can wonder. This one droplet hits me out of a million others, and I stand on a random place outside, my hand at that particular spot, and the droplet that already falls for kilometers hits me. Think also of where that one droplet comes from. The journey these water molecules make over and over again. As far as I know, some of them fell on Gallileo when he was staring in the direction where these molecules once came from.

This is how I understand life started billions of years ago; all the ingredients were there until one atom hit another at the right angle at the right spot and started this chain reaction that we call the big bang.

 

  1. -Once an evolutionary benefit that helped keep our ancestors alive, cortisol, the hormone that triggers our fight-or-flight response, may now be doing more harm than good. From: https://www.discovermagazine.com/health/fight-or-flight-why-our-caveman-brains-keep-getting-confused -- -Why in a modern world do more people believe in ESP, ghosts and angels than in scientific theories such as evolution? A University of Guelph psychology professor tackles this question and others in a new book, Caveman Logic: The Persistence of Primitive Thinking in a Modern World. "We're trying to get by in our modern world using a Stone-Age mind," said Hank Davis, a specialist in evolutionary psychology. From: https://www.uoguelph.ca/news/2009/06/human_brain_stu_1.html
     -During the talk, Lieberman described some of the ways that instincts humans inherited from the Stone Age — also                                                                    known as the Paleolithic Period, stretching from between 2.6 million to about 10,000 years ago — now conflict with modern life From: https://www.livescience.com/41146-cavemen-choices.html

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