Very soon, S4SS will begin issuing its monthly newsletter, The New Leveller. It will be a running discussion devoted to radical libertarian and individualist anarchist thought, and, drawing off of nineteenth-century periodicals like Benjamin Tucker’s Liberty and Moses Harmon’s Lucifer, the Lightbearer, it will feature plenty of fire. The primary purpose of the New Leveller is to provide another voice for the most radical and unfiltered impulses in market anarchism.
Anyone interested in either feeding the flames by contributing, or in subscribing to the newsletter so that they can watch them go higher and higher, is more than welcome to contact as at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions should range (roughly) 500-1000 words, focused on content that would either help introduce people to the ideas of individualist anarchism, develop and explore the ideas of individualist anarchism for those already familiar with it, or analyze an issue from within a framework of individualist anarchism will be welcome. Basically, anything that you think might have fit with the aforementioned periodicals, or in the earlier issues of Murray Rothbard’s Libertarian Forum.
As a sample of what to expect, here’s the text of the first editorial.
For a New Levelling
In 1646, one of the earliest statements of libertarianism burst through as “An Arrow Against All Tyrants.” It was “shot from the prison of Newgate into the prerogative bowels of the arbitrary House of Lords and all other usurpers and tyrants whatsoever” by Richard Overton of the Levellers.
The Levellers were a group of English radicals who rebelled first against the King, and then against Cromwell (an arrow against all tyrants is an arrow against all tyrants, even those who call themselves “Lord Protector”). This was because they held firmly to what Leveller pamphleteer John Lilburne called “freeborn rights,” a powerful acknowledgement of the “self-propriety” which must be respected in order for individuals to flourish.
The Levellers didn’t like the term “Levellers,” though, preferring “Agitators.” This was because they felt that “Leveller” misleadingly implied they wanted to reduce everyone to the same level, and as individualists, they didn’t.
So why call this publication “The New Leveller?” Why use a name from the 17th-century that wasn’t even liked by the group that got stuck with it?
We proudly take on the name “New Leveller,” because as individualist anarchists, we are their philosophical descendants. Furthermore, even if they didn’t see it this way, there is something they were working to level, and it still needs leveling.
Expecting justice, we are instead given a truly criminal system based on criminal law. The emphasis is always on punishing the criminal for their sin against the State, not on restoring what can be restored to those who’ve been harmed. Victims are robbed of restitution, criminals are hardened by soul-destroying prisons, and police roam the streets like an occupying army.
Expecting defense, we are given instead the military. It risks the lives of the well-intentioned and desperate by forcing them to bring death and destruction overseas. In turn, they make civilians less safe by emboldening possible threats.
Expecting to find productive fulfillment, we are instead given the monotonous routine of the modern workplace. Alternatives are eliminated by endless webs of regulation, and resistance is quelled by labor laws that reward the tamest unions with the most self-serving bureaucracies.
Expecting education, we are instead given the State’s schools and their imitators. The creative and self-motivating impulses of youth are beaten out of us, and we are taught to accept the dominant culture’s narratives. At those ages where schools are compulsory, they exist to make children equate success with obedience, and at the college level, schools exist to keep stratification stagnant.
This could go on forever. Goals of genuine merit are distorted by power into institutions that tower over us and compel us to serve their interests rather than our own. Patterns of subordination – not only the State itself, but its similarly structured cousins like managerial capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and heterosexism – shove us around and force us to live within their walls.
We are born under their control. We die under their control. Every step we take is taken, every word we speak is spoken, and every night we sleep is slept with them towering over us.
Having lived in this prison for so long, we start to forget what life might be like on the outside. Moss has grown over those old gray walls and they start to look like nature.
“Individualist anarchism” is the word for wanting out. It is the word for knowing that we can’t escape by removing one brick at a time, since it will just be put back elsewhere while we’re not paying attention. For understanding that the only way to escape this prison is to level it.
Before anyone misunderstands what that means, I am not advocating terrorism. I am advocating something much more serious.
The prison in which we find ourselves is not a physical prison, but a social one. Its bricks and mortar are the beliefs and practices by which people submit to the State and other forms of domination.
The policeman’s power springs more from his badge than his gun. If a good thousand of us resisted his gun, we would win. Yet he can still use that gun however he wants, because so many of us bow to the badge.
So what must be done must be a social leveling. We must withdraw our support from those institutions that stunt our development as individuals, and let them fall at our feet.
They will fall, too. They will fall because despite the best efforts of our guards, the Levellers are still right, and human beings are born to be free. As freeborn creatures, we can only produce when at least some of our action is left free.
So even with markets distorted by violence into places of capitalism, and even with civil society distorted by violence into a community of sexism, racism, and heteronormativity, they are still products of free action en masse. As products of free action en masse, they will necessarily eat away at the walls of domination like an acid.
Despite our captors’ best efforts, markets still bring us alternatives to the mess room’s slop. Despite our captors’ best efforts, civil society still breaks down the walls between our cells and helps us unite against the jailer on patrol.
To help spur this almost inevitable social leveling along, we have to harness the energy of free action at the root of markets and civil society. We need a spirit of radical individualism. To get that, we must remove the spirit of obedience beaten into us and grow back the self-respect beaten out of us.
Like the original Levellers, we have no desire to level everyone to the lowest common denominator. What we want to level are the walls that hold each one of us back from pursuing our particular, self-directed destinies, from living our fullest lives.
We are Levellers who understand why we are Levellers.