inessential by Brent Simmons


When I was a teenager I was an anarchist.

Then one day I learned I wasn’t an anarchist anymore. I read Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed. It’s about two planets: one an anarchy, the other most definitely not.

The thing was, I thought the anarchy planet was so boring and dreary and puritanical—and the other planet, for all its being fucked-up and unfair, was much more colorful and fun and glamorous and irrational and interesting. It would be easy to choose where to live.

And then I knew I wasn’t an anarchist. I was kinda sad about it, because my self-image was that of the radical anarchist revolutionary artist. So I had to drop the anarchist part.

A couple years later I read Ecotopia, which describes a sort-of anarchy spanning northern California, Oregon, and Washington. It sucked. No way do I want to live in Ecotopia. Ugh. Blech.

From these books it appears that political anarchies are not particularly anarchic: they’re boring and everyone’s the same. So much for anarchy. Too bad.

Years later I discovered that Rousseau is the source of so much of this stuff. If there’s one philosopher I wouldn’t mind punching in the nose, it would be Jean-Jacques.

That’s not to say I don’t like Ursula K. LeGuin’s books. I think The Dispossessed is a good book. And I loved The Lathe of Heaven.

A counter-example: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress describes an anarchy on the Moon. I wouldn’t mind living there. It’s a very different anarchy—a fun and diverse anarchy—than the anarchies described elsewhere. It’s more a transplanted and scratched-up Jeffersonian anarchy than a Roussea-ian anarchy.

I am 32% Grunge.