La Boetie: Not Spanish For The Bowtie

The week’s reading comes partially as a response to rereading Civil Disobedience and the thoughts that came with that and in part while those were steeping reading a series of articles at The Left Half: Here, Here, and now Here.

The impetus that launched the ensuing posts and pushed back Aeschylus for La Boetie claims a hold on the final piece of the pill, that men (disclaimer: NAMALT, don’t be stupid) desire to submit to authority.  Men desire to be betas, to be sheeple, to remain plugged, to be unaccountable and irresponsible.

I agree to a certain extent, and La Boetie would certainly agree; however, I do not believe that men wish to submit to all or to any authority.  That they do submit to any authority when the appropriate authorities are eroded, when they have been born into a matrix of upside down topsy-turvy hamsterbation, they submit to almost anything. If one were to follow Jack Donovan’s logic from The Way of Men he would expect the appropriate authority for men to be their gang leader, but I would extend that to their father, beyond that to their family patriarch, then their gang leader etc.

The problem of submission arises from the unnatural centralization of these roles.  As the traditional institutions of a society decay (old Roman families and aristocracy, the natural authority of Roman men of war, old British families and aristocracy, the old gentlemen of the south, the Church, the tribune of the people. . .etc) the state, the privileged, and the interested move to a coup d’etat.  Those who submit before the usurpation might be willing to fight, but theirs is a losing battle as more often than not the attrition continues and if not this generation then the next finds the submission natural.  At first it seem innocuous but eventually the true nature is exposed as Monsieur Guillotine resumes his insatiable laughter.

First a tidbit from Chesterton:

All injustice begins in the mind. And anomalies accustom the mind to the idea of unreason and untruth. Suppose I had by some prehistoric law the power of forcing every man in Battersea to nod his head three times before he got out of bed. The practical politicians might say that this power was a harmless anomaly; that it was not a grievance. It could do my subjects no harm; it could do me no good. The people of Battersea, they would say, might safely submit to it. But the people of Battersea could not safely submit to it, for all that. If I had nodded their heads for them for fifty years I could cut off their heads for them at the end of it with immeasurably greater ease. For there would have permanently sunk into every man’s mind the notion that it was a natural thing for me to have a fantastic and irrational power. They would have grown accustomed to insanity.

For, in order that men should resist injustice, something more is necessary than that they should think injustice unpleasant. They must think injustice absurd; above all, they must think it startling. They must retain the violence of a virgin astonishment. That is the explanation of the singular fact which must have struck many people in the relations of philosophy and reform. It is the fact (I mean) that optimists are more practical reformers than pessimists. Superficially, one would imagine that the railer would be the reformer; that the man who thought that everything was wrong would be the man to put everything right. In historical practice the thing is quite the other way; curiously enough, it is the man who likes things as they are who really makes them better.

-GK Chesterton, All Things Considered

And now La Boetie:

It is incredible how as soon as a people becomes subject, it promptly falls into such complete forgetfulness of its freedom that it can hardly be roused to the point of regaining it, obeying so easily and so willingly that one is led to say, on beholding such a situation, that this people has not so much lost its liberty as won its enslavement. It is true that in the beginning men submit under constraint and by force; but those who come after them obey without regret and perform willingly what their predecessors had done because they had to. This is why men born under the yoke and then nourished and reared in slavery are content, without further effort, to live in their native circumstance, unaware of any other state or right, and considering as quite natural the condition into which they were born.

For everyman who has unplugged or is yet to.  First stop submitting. Second start acting for your own interests. Now, read The Discourse On Voluntary Servitude.

La Boetie was a friend and  companion of Michel de Montaigne the original blogger, if you will. (Won’t you?) He was the first to ask why isn’t everyone unplugged? We still don’t know, but his little essay will get a man on his way to finding out for himself.


Veritas numquam perit,
The Poet

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