The Anarchist Handbook: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

I’ll be open and admit that I will probably never like Proudhon. We’re axiomatically different in too many ways, but that doesn’t mean that I have to believe everything he thinks is wrong.

In particular, the section that Michael Malice has excerpted for The Anarchist Handbook (Amazon affiliate link) contains a relatively pure expression of anarchist thought with few of his other theories coming into play.

As the third writer covered, he’s the first to write as an avowed anarchist (Godwin and Stirner not really quite fitting the category), and is also probably the easiest so far to understand without some background reading.

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The Anarchist Handbook: Max Stirner

I’m going to work through the essays in The Anarchist Handbook (Amazon affiliate link), written/edited by Michael Malice, over the course of the next several weeks. It’s a collection of works by an eclectic brand of thinkers who align, at times, only on their opposition to the state.

Because Malice organized The Anarchist Handbook in chronological order, the enigmatic Max Stirner is the second person to be covered in the anthology. I like Stirner, but he’s difficult to follow. This is not entirely accidental.

There’s a reason why I joke “Never go Max Stirner, just go a little Stirner.”

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The Anarchist Handbook: William Godwin

I’m going to work through the essays in The Anarchist Handbook (Amazon affiliate link), written/edited by Michael Malice, over the course of the next several weeks. It’s a collection of works by an eclectic brand of thinkers who align, at times, only on their opposition to the state.

Today we’re starting the series off with a look at William Godwin.

William Godwin’s take on political philosophy seems to me to share a good deal of affinity for Spooner’s later antiestablishmentarian philosophy. However, he is more of a balanced thinker and falls more in the Lockean tradition of discourse than the rougher American style that Spooner uses.

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First Impression: Michael Malice’s The Anarchist Handbook

Michael Malice is a brilliant writer and enigmatic celebrity, so I’ll let him introduce himself before I introduce his work:

Michael Malice is the author of Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il and The New Right. He is also the organizer of the forthcoming The Anarchist Handbook, currently scheduled for release sometime last year. Malice is notorious for writing about himself in such a way as to confuse and annoy the reader, for no discernable purpose whatsoever.

Michael Malice, The Anarchist Handbook

As an anarchist without adjectives, Malice seeks to present a broad variety of anarchist thought. My own background, coming from a right-Tolstoyan perspective, differs as far as much as night differs from day when compared some of the thinkers he includes (e.g. Plunkett, whose essay “Dynamite!” is featured in The Anarchist Handbook).

I do not endorse these ways of thinking, but Malice’s intent in presenting them is as a historian and curator of thought.

It is from this perspective, then, that we should address Malice’s decisions in putting together the book, which is predominantly focused on presenting the work of others.

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The Paradox of Risk

I’ve been thinking about risk recently.

There are things in life that are always attended by some risk.

In fact, depending on whether we go by perceived risk or actual risk, it’s probably fair to say that there are valid perspectives in which everything carries risks. There may be examples where all the possible and varied outcomes of something have no negative connotations for the actor, but this is rare and generally involves things that people don’t think about.

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A Pessimist’s Guide to Our Economic Situation

I’ve become quite disquieted about the state of the economy.

I’m something of an economic pessimist. I’m not willing to write off society, humanity (though I’m certainly not a sunshine and rainbows type there), and technological progress.

But I’ve always been leery of the economy, and there are a lot of events going on right now that look really bad.

I’m going to talk about what they are and what I think people should expect, though who am I but some random person complaining on the internet?

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Information and Praxeology Outside Economics

I’ve been thinking about praxeology recently, especially as it pertains to information acquisition.

This is a synthesis of two ideas that don’t seem to come together often. On one hand, understanding praxeology–the study of human action–and information acquisition–the perpetuation of knowledge and ideological constructs–partially go hand in hand.

But I believe that praxeology has a piece of the picture missing, and memetics likewise has an oversimplified view of reality. The former field of study cares more about how people act on information rather than how they acquire it. This is because it is most often applied in the field of economics, especially by those in the Austrian school.

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Review: Human Action

Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action is an economic treatise that seeks to cover every major concept in economics. While it dates to the 1940s, its depth and breadth mean that there are few things that are left untouched throughout the book.

Or, perhaps, it would be better to say books. Human Action sometimes occupies multiple volumes, since it is about a thousand pages long.

With that said, it is not as painful as its length might make it seem. Mises is not concise, but he makes up for it by careful explorations of each concept he covers and an ability to turn phrases that make complex topics clear and long discursions bearable.

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Reflections on Aristotle’s Poetics

Aristotle’s Poetics is one of the earliest surviving works of literary criticism, and I read it over the past couple days. It’s pretty short (the Project Gutenberg version I got came to 60 pages, and that includes the legal notices), but it’s interesting to explore it as a thought exercise.

It’s one of very few surviving texts that is more than two thousand years old, and it’s interesting to see how well it equates to modernity even though many of the terms and concepts that it uses have developed in the time since its writing (though, to be fair, some of this likely also is a factor of translation).

You also don’t need as much information to go into it as I thought would be necessary. Being familiar with Homer is a must, since Aristotle references his work constantly. Other than a very basic knowledge of Greek myth or drama (e.g. to catch references to Oedipus or Medea or the more famous ancient playwrights), nothing more is needed.

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Undertaking An Exploration of the Trivium

I have decided that I am going to undertake an exploration of the trivium.

Unfortunately, it seems that there are relatively few great sources for people looking to self-teach the trivium.

I have acquired a copy of The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric (Amazon affiliate link), which should help with pursuing this goal.

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