The Essence of Anarchy
Questions of Consent or Coercion
What does the word ‘anarchy’ actually mean? Perhaps it conjures up images of chaos and disorder in your mind? Is this where anarchy inevitably leads us, or would it in fact take us to a far greater level of societal harmony?
In this book I attempt to distil the very essence of what anarchy is, boiling it down to questions of consent or coercion. I contend that whereas consensual, cooperative relationships facilitate human flourishing, coercive ones are a tree that can only produce bad fruit. The presence of the giant coercive institutions, we think of as governments, gives rise to havoc around the world.
This message is ultimately a hopeful one, as all that is required to throw off the shackles of sickness, poverty and crime, is to consistently embrace the simple morality known to any child.
Excursions into Undiluted Madness
Recent years have seen a massive proliferation of conspiracy theories. For good or ill, they have sold well on the marketplace of ideas. The porous nature of the net means such theories are thrust into the faces of people who’d really rather ignore them altogether, and may consider them both objectionable and dangerous.
Conspiracy theorists haven’t had it easy either. From their perspective they are surrounded by dupes—unwilling or unable to see the agenda that’s so obviously playing out. Sheep to the slaughter!
In recognising this state of play, I would suggest two possible paths emerge. The first—and overwhelmingly more popular—leads us to dig our trenches deeper and lob bricks even harder at the other side. This is the path of seeking to insulate ourselves ever more firmly in our existing worldviews, whilst dismissing all others.
The second is to emerge from our trenches, let go our egoic grip on our opinions and open up to mystery. The sense of mystery that arises from acknowledging that we don’t actually know what this world is or how it works. We don’t know who, if anyone, pulls the levers of power, we don’t know to what extent conspiracies operate, to what extent randomness is at play, or to what extent global circumstances are the inevitable consequence of incentives and the structures we establish. It may even be the case that nobody knows—even those at the top of whatever power structures do exist.
If we can acknowledge rather than hide from this fundamental sense of not knowing, we may find that our attempts at understanding are enhanced by ideas that, to quote philosopher Paul Feyerabend: ‘at first look like undiluted madness’. This door swings both ways: just as conventionally minded people may learn something from considering conspiracy, so too may conspiracy theorists be enriched by taking seriously the undiluted madness of mainstream opinion.
If that path sounds appealing, this may be a book for you.
Of Matter or Mind?
Paradoxical Poems on the Nature of Reality
In the year 1710 Bishop George Berkeley published A Treatise Concerning Human Understanding, in which he proposed that there is no material world ‘out there’ generating our sense perceptions, but rather all is arising in mind. This world is a kind of dream.
Is the world fundamentally matter creating mind? Or is it mind dreaming matter? The poems in this book are not intended to resolve the debate, rather they are portals opening up a seeing of reality in a different way, facilitating a paradigm shift between those two positions. They will mess with your mind, leading you into unresolvable paradoxes—getting you lost in contemplation of questions that perhaps have no ultimate answer.
On Understanding Consciousness
This essay explores the ways in which we seek to understand consciousness. I make the case for a methodological pluralism, and explore how employing a-priori reasoning may yield insight into the nature of being.
Finding Your Original Face
A Spiritual Approach to Body Dysmorphia
'What did your face look like before you were born?' This question of core identity is central to all the world’s spiritual traditions and formed the basis of this investigation into body image distress.
Essays on Awakening
A collection of essays on the experience of spiritual awakening.