Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lycanthropic anarchism

"Burn the bridge, stop the machine, cut those ties, come kiss the guillotine."
from Gasoline by KMFDM

I'm an anarchist. I know, intellectually, that peaceful anarchy, willing cooperation without coercion, without economic domination or social manipulation is the one social pattern suitable to intelligence.
Intellectually, i also know that emotionally, my drive towards anarchy is based on anger. My goal of anarchy is peaceful and progressive. My impulse to it is anything but. Like most who call themselves anarchists, i am driven by the wish to burn the world around me, to trod on the necks of all those who have even tangentially to the 6th degree ever stood against me.

I have a sneaking suspicion that if i ever were to find myself in a position of power, i would proceed to impose my will ever more narrowly on my surroundings until i tear everything down around me. Anarchy through megalomania is a delightful concept, sort of an exaggeration of the precept of Herbert's God Emperor of Dune but i can hardly justify it. The precedent would ouroboros its way back to megalomania.

I've refused leadership positions even in a couple of online game guilds for reasons like this. I can't trust myself. The alpha dog instinct and my innate viciousness captivate me too often. Anarchy is unreachable, like any worthwhile ideal, and in any power structure, the role of the anarchist is at the bottom.

There are, however, always bridges to burn. One of my main activities in any guild i join is needling the bosses until they kick me out. I like pointing out their every attempt to cheat, their self-serving actions, the values and subservience they impose on others while pretending fairness, kindness and open-mindedness. I like pointing out that all of the rules they create amount to 'we're busy making ourselves feel big at your expense, don't rock the boat'.

I've been meaning to expand on the social possibilities in persistent world games. One of these is putting anarchy to the test. In a game with some character persistence or especially real consequences for one's actions and the chance for buildup, the pretense of solidarity and altruism gets replaced by mercenary motives. Easygoing cooperation gets replaced by feudalism as players flock to whatever alpha dog promises them the highest social standing, the best ways to lord something over others. In such a game, if such a world were to be found, i would be very curious to see how long an egalitarian group can last. How long before one member of the group starts stealing and hoarding resources and 'hiring' others? How long before my rage against every little cretin who ever corpse-camped me or ninjad my resource node makes me start building an army to salt the virtual earth so that none of them can leave their starting zones again?

No comments:

Post a Comment