Manifesto #5 (an Attack on Violence)

I do not enjoy security or comfort. Though it may seem that it is in my best interest to enjoy security and comfort through the assurances of authorities outside my own will, this is mere indoctrination which serves the interest of those authorities which make their enjoyment in the exercise of power over me. The type of man who would sign his own sovereign authority and judgment over to other men demonstrates either that he enjoys being dominated, or that he enjoys being lazy. In either case, it shows that this type of man does not believe that his power is his own property to use as he will. The type of man who consigns his own power over to other men in exchange for a reduced scope of liberty, action and sovereignty of will is afraid of his ability to wield his own power. He feels unschooled, unqualified and incompetent to deal with such power. But this idea does serve the interest of those men who want to use his power for him.

Such men often find philosophical enquiry into their own beliefs hostile to their way of life. But these beliefs and this way of life are not even his ideas. He inherits them and defends them on behalf of his masters. He is himself hostile to ideas. Stupidity, the conscious opposition to examining one’s own beliefs is, after all, nothing but a form of oppression; it is the oppression of thought. This is the primary form of violence found amongst men. This oppression exists so that those men in authority, who have been authorised to wield the individual’s power on his behalf, can indefinitely retain the loan and use of his power for their own ends. Inasmuch as the man who freely signs away his power to his masters must, by necessity, feel resentful for having done so, he therefore tends to consider any use of philosophy by others as hostile to him, despite the very obvious fact that all his views articulate philosophical prejudices that he has inherited through the ages and accepts blindly as his own. He will only accept a philosophy which is given him by his masters who give him the responsibility to defend it in his own sphere of life. He has no use of thinking up his own alternatives and considers such free-thinking to be both unpatriotic and dangerous to his way of life and to the way of life of his whole society. But free-thinking is not an enemy of society. It is its entire justification.

I want to show that the seemingly peaceful, consenting society of men, who exist under the sway of unexamined philosophical ideals, is nothing but an exercise of violence over each individual will in order to strengthen the degree of power in those who hold authority over him. I want to show that it is his individual power which the philosophy of the ruling class wishes to acquire, and that it is his beliefs, when he does not question them, when he does not have the strength to reject what he considers logically untenable and when he does not speak against those things he feels to be false, which is the object which powerful and cunning men wish to acquire. I say that man, if he is willing to do so, must act as a philosopher if he is going to espouse and live under philosophical ideas. I say there is not one single man living anywhere, who does not act under the governance of some philosophical, moral ideal, and if he will act out such ideals, then he must question their validity and usefulness. We are told that man has a right to free speech. But if he does not put his will into his mouth when he speaks, then his right is nothing but a license for a greater, more powerful men to speak on his behalf, and he therefore gives his power and therefore his freedom away as cheaply as the native Americans gave away their lands. I say that man enjoys insecurity and suffering, because these are the feelings of being alive. He enjoys those things because it is only when man feels insecure and suffers for it that he expresses his sovereign will and exercise of his own power. When man exercises power, he feels alive. When man gives his power away under the pretext of greater freedom and security, he feels foolish. And so he should. The comforts and securities he enjoys are the slender pay-off made to him by those he gave his power to in order for him not to have to think, and yet thinking is his premium. Unless man has a direct relation to his own quantum of power, unless he recognises power as the only property which existence affords him, then power, freedom and happiness are for him nothing but spectator sports.