Sam Francis’s most enduring, as well as trenchant, political insight may have been his perception of what he caustically described as “the unique achievement of the political genius of the modern era.” Francis dubbed this “anarcho-tyranny”—“a kind of Hegelian synthesis of two opposites,” he explained, in which the failure of the state to enforce protective law is coupled with the enforcement of oppressive law by the state to tyrannical ends. Under anarcho-tyranny, the underclass—rampaging blacks, illegal aliens invading from south of the border—is by and large tolerated or ignored in its behavior, while the law-abiding middle classes and that part of the upper class that is not directly incorporated into the ruling elite are criminalized through unfair taxation, social engineering, antigun legislation, “hate crime” statutes, and other forms of legislative and judicial harassment. Anarcho-tyranny is the strategy by which a dictatorially minded ruling class exploits the lower orders for the purpose of grinding the middling majority between upper and nether millstones. Its primary and essential aim is the concentration of political and economic control exclusively in the hands of the governing elite and its apparatchiks—exactly in the manner, and to the same purpose, that the Communist Party gained absolute control of the Soviet Union in the 1920’s. Anarcho-tyranny is about the consolidation and expansion of raw power, not the realization of an ideological vision—just as American capitalism in its postmodern form is concerned not with the patriotic aim of maximizing the position of the United States internationally, or the ideological one of spreading democratic capitalism throughout the world, but with the creation of a wealth-generating dynamo destined to be not solely the wonder but the central defining reality of the universe.
Anarcho-tyranny is paralleled by a twin synthesis whose aim is indeed ideological and to which power, being instrumental, is secondary. This synthesis might be called libertine-Puritanism, or Puritan-libertinism: the “creative” juxtaposition of unbridled sexuality with a bluenose condemnation of liquor, tobacco, rich food, red meat, overweight, physical unfitness, blood sports, guns, and traditional male behavior (other than extramarital sex), combined with an energetic enthusiasm for genetic engineering and cloning. Libertine-Puritanism is both eager for and demanding of power as a means for realizing its vision of the new moral order, detached from traditional morality founded in religious law, which it quite rightly recognizes as the prerequisite for the creation of the New Man fit to dwell in a recreated—and strictly regimented—world. Toward its achievement, the ethic of entirely unregimented freedom-below-the-belt is an invaluable and, indeed, indispensable tool. As for the end itself, which is nothing less than the creation of Heaven-on-Earth, in which all mankind will be as physically perfect as show animals and long-lived as gods, power is handy as well. In Brave New World, Huxley cedes the future more to libertine-Puritanism than to anarcho-tyranny. (There is plenty of soft tyranny in his New World, but no anarchy of the political sort at all; the same is true of Orwell’s dystopia, though, in all other respects, Huxley’s prophetic vision differed from, and was truer than, that of 1984.) In the post-Christian West, it may be that the pseudoreligious aspect of libertine-Puritanism makes it more dangerous—because more seductive—than anarcho-tyranny, at least in the long run. From the vantage point of the United States of America in the year 2005, a tax rebellion or a popular movement against underclass crime and illegal immigration seems a good deal more likely than does a crusade to outlaw divorce or the destruction of embryos for stem-cell research.
Synthesis in politics, as in philosophy, is very often a sign that someone is attempting to get away with dishonesty for a purpose, or purposes, best known to himself. Mixed, or republican, government is not the result of a “synthesis” of democracy and monarchy, or totalitarianism and anarchy, any more than Unitarianism is a “synthesis” of Judaism and Christianity. Usually, the dishonesty in attempting to reconcile contradictions amounts to trying to have one big thing both ways, for ends as dishonest and self-serving as the means. All too often, moreover, syntheses are constructed from the modern passion for “creativity,” a word that itself developed within the Marxist context. As Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) has written, “Creativity means that in a universe that in itself is meaningless and came into existence through blind evolution, man can creatively fashion a better world.” (“It may be,” he adds, “that in such visions a cry for freedom is to be heard, a cry that in a world totally in control of technology becomes a cry for help.”) Finally, contradictory combinations unnaturally induced, in human affairs as in nature, have a way of producing catastrophic results—as was demonstrated 60 years ago last July, on the Jornada del Muerto in southern New Mexico at a place called Trinity.
Those who do not work with God in history end up working against Him. This appears to be an historical (as well as theological) axiom that admits, to my knowledge, of absolutely no exception. Man bends toward transcendence as a plant grows toward the sun. And if he will not achieve transcendence through God, he is impelled to attempt to achieve it through himself. This has been the modern project, lasting already for half a millennium at least, and showing few signs at present of abating, but rather the opposite. Man is impelled also by the desire for achievement—paradoxically achieved through work, which is the curse of Adam. And he is never content with achievement solely but desires and works to perfect that achievement as well. Anarcho-tyranny and libertine-Puritanism both strive to accomplish tyranny. But the tyranny they envision is not the tyranny of the present, just as the economic system envisioned by Wall Street, London City, Frankfurt, and Shanghai is not the present-day system but the radically—almost unimaginably—enhanced one of tomorrow. In modern parlance and understanding, “changed,” of course, means “improved.” (Detroit works to build something superior, in efficiency and everything else, to last year’s Ford.) Financiers today are at work to construct an economy that quite simply will not be of this world, which is to say our world—the world in which we live today. Similarly, the architects of anarcho-tyranny are hard at work planning a tyranny that is not of this world, while libertine-Puritanism has in mind a people that are not of this world and, finally, a world that is not of this world.
Superficially, it might appear that anarcho-tyranny and libertine-Puritanism have divergent, actually opposed, ends. What the two share, however, is a principal means toward those ends. And it is at that point, concerning this matter of means, that anarcho-tyranny and libertine-Puritanism intersect, libertinism being only another word for sexual anarchy (the sole anarchic expression to command popular enthusiasm in the middle-class suburbs and the ghettos).
Libertinism . . . anarchy . . . chaos—an ancient word, charged with Grecian nobility, force, and truth:
Keep order in space,
And order in time,
For disorder is chaos,
And chaos is crime.
For the England in which this bit of anonymous verse was written, chaos was the greatest evil imaginable—quite literally, the work of the Devil. For the would-be synthesizers, it is simply the step in planning at which the creative destruction necessary to the fulfillment of their ambitions occurs. Out of confusion, destruction, chaos, a new world will be built, constructed and consecrated to their own specifications and their particular purposes.
Religion, blushing, veils her sacred
And unawares Morality expires.
Nor public flame nor private dares
Nor human spark is left, nor
Lo! Thy dread empire Chaos is
Light dies before thy uncreating
Thy hand, great Anarch, lets the
And universal darkness buries all.
If all goes according to plan, the curtain will remain down only for so long as is necessary for the dismantlement of the original set and the construction of its replacement to be accomplished. And when the curtain rises again, it will be the hand of the Tyrant—not the Anarch—that lifts it. If the world breaks toward chaos at present, chaos is unlikely to prove long-lasting. Insofar as the world, meaning the Western world, ever was “free,” the age of freedom is rapidly reaching its end. Tyranny, it seems, is set to increase; anarchy, to decrease—after, like St. John the Baptist, it has fulfilled its purpose, which is to prepare the way for tyranny by making tyranny nearly inevitable.
Orwell warned that, when words lose their meaning, men lose their freedom. In these days, however, the misuse and abuse of language, though significant, is not the chief weapon of advancing tyranny. Propaganda is rife—in fact, it is everything, or nearly so—but the main danger is not really Newspeak. It is conceptual structures, not word structures. Intellectuals create historical syntheses, not active people—who, insofar as these syntheses amount to an accurate description of the world, simply act them out. That is not to say that certain of these people are unaware of what they are up to, where they are going, and where they intend to take the world, if they can. As a general rule, a society in contradiction to itself to the degree that ours is, and at the elevated social and political levels at which fundamental contradictions are recognizable, is not just a troubled society but a society in which trouble is being actively contemplated. And so it is also a devious and deceitful society—one based on lies, in which lying has become its modus vivendi in its internal as well as in its external relations. Worse, it lies to itself about its own nature—what it is today, and what it has in mind to become tomorrow.
Societies, nations, like individuals, whose chief subject of conversation is themselves, are usually and rightly suspect. And what they have to say about themselves is never to be trusted, it being a pretty certain rule of thumb that what they say of themselves is the exact opposite of the truth about them. Protected (as they think) by the collective “we” from the appearance and charge of egotism, societies are far more shameless in conferring lavish praise on themselves than individuals typically are—on those occasions, that is, when individuals are speaking for themselves, individually. It is rare to hear a person describe himself forthrightly as “compassionate” or “loving,” though I once heard a man declare, to my discomfort, that he was “pious.” (The truly odd thing in this instance is that I should have felt compelled to agree with him, if asked directly for my corroboration.) But a compassionate society does not make the abortion of its children a sacrament, nor does a loving one offer no-fault divorce or divorce-on-demand, anymore than a Christian society legalizes adultery and sodomy and makes Madonna a millionaire. Similarly, a “free” society does not promote the growth of tyranny at the highest levels, nor a “country of laws” tolerate anarchy at the lowest ones. (Only a schizoid or, as we have seen, dishonest country is comfortable with a synthesis of the two.) “Decent” societies do not encourage libertinism either from philosophical conviction or for reasons of political advantage, while “free” and “democratic” ones do not agitate for the totalitarian regimentation demanded by a puritanical regime that would have appalled historical Puritanism by its antiseptic plasticity as much as by its sexual license and godlessness. As for democracy, democratic nations do not assume responsibility for whipping authoritarian societies into some sort of weird approximation of themselves, a thing none of the great empires of history presumed—or cared—to do.
Organic development, not Hegelian synthesis, is what characterizes free societies, true societies, real societies, as distinguished from incoherent ersatz ones, such as that which the United States has grown into over the past century-and-a-half. If anarcho-tyranny and libertine-Puritanism make no sense, that is because the nation that developed them fails to make sense, as well.