The Ethos of Weeds
by Tim Case
(from the Greek an- and arche, contrary to authority), the name
given to the principle or theory of life and conduct under which
society is conceived without government harmony in such
a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience
to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the
various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted
for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction
of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized
Prince Peter A. Kropotkin (18421921)
Russian Revolutionary & Author
a point in history on any continent and you will find, with a few
rare exceptions, man being ruled by some form of government. This
is hardly a new or a startling revelation. However, the question
can be posed as to why this is a reoccurring theme. More accurately
we can ask: What is it about governments that holds mans loyalty
and allows others to rule them?
than once we have been instructed as to the necessity of a majority
consent before a state and its accompanying hierocracy can be formed.
further defines this general consent:
it must be noted, need not be active enthusiasm; it may well be
passive resignation as if to an inevitable law of nature. But
support in the sense of acceptance of some sort it must be…”
will note that above I used the word “hierocracy” instead of the
more common description of the ruling class as being a “hierarchy.”
This is intentional for the simple reason that throughout the ancient
world there was little or no distinction between the ruling clergy
and the ruling class and as I hope to show, this lack of distinction
continues in the modern age.
for the moment let’s assume that the consent given to any ruling
class isn’t a switch from one inamorata to another, rather it is
the same harsh, acrimonious mistress under different labels.
the renowned “infidel" of the eighteenth century, was fond of saying
that if there were no God, people would have to invent one.
ancient people being practical did just exactly that. They fully
realized that man and his world were imperfect and, more often then
not, extremely violent. This drew the ancients to conclude that
only through government could people be forced to live in peace
with each other. They further deduced that the politics of force,
via the institution of the state, was the only answer. Indeed from
all quarters of the ancient world the common wisdom declared that
is was necessary for good people to do horrible things in order
for the majority to be happy and prosper. Thus, war was not only
necessary but was elevated from being deadly, and destructive to
society, to being exalted as the highest of noble acts.
problem that arose was the questionable morality of these acts and
the consequences that accompany man’s violent actions.
question of morality was overcome by the simple step of elevating
the great warriors of antiquity to the status of god. One of the
first man-gods can be found in the person of Gilgamesh
of whom I wrote earlier. However, as time progressed and the myths
that accompany these warrior-gods became more prominent we find
the gods of the ancient world exhibiting more and more of mankind’s
should not be startling to find that the ancient gods had committed
all forms of decadent behavior. For instance Cronus (Saturn) came
to power by castrating his Father Uranus with a sickle. Cronus’
wife, Rhea, was the mother of the Olympians. However, the god Cronus
was afraid that one of his children would take over the throne of
the supreme god so he ate each of the children as they were born.
This worked until Rhea became fed up with the death of her children,
and managed to trick Cronus into swallowing a rock instead of the
Zeus grew up Cronus’ worst fears were realized because Zeus would
lead a revolution against Cronus and the other Titans, defeat them,
and banish them to the world of the dead, which was ruled by Hades.
there is anything that is common among the ancient myths it is the
acts of murder, rape, war, conspiracy, and bestiality of these gods.
we should not be amazed to learn that Alexander the Great grew up
in a time when Macedonian kings didn’t die of old age but rather
were murdered, nor that Alexander saw his own father, King Phillip
II, stabbed to death.
problem of morality was thus solved. The hierocracy of the state
now acted like the gods and the gods had all the faithless and treacherous
behavior of those who ran the state.
very idea of human kingship was to be recognized, honored and worshiped
as the human expression of the reigning god and the title of king
was in fact an ancient god’s name.
the ancient Phoenician city of Tyre the god Melqart was worshiped.
This god is variously known as Melkart, Melkarth or Melgart and
in the ancient Akkadian language as Milqartu.
was the guardian or protector god and his name means literally “king
of the city.” Melqart was also given the title Baal Sur, “Lord of
Tyre,” and was worshipped as far west as Spain.
the original “divine right” of kings was to be called “lord” which
was the name of a god, in this case Baal or Melgart.
ancient kings were popularized among the people as the “seat of
compassion,” “the great house,” which is the literal meaning of
the word Pharaoh, or as the Emperors of China who wore the title
“Son of Heaven.”
the ancient world, the concept of the king being god was so accepted
and well known that to the Roman mind the word “god” was especially
reserved for the emperor.
official inscriptions of 48 BC at the town council of Ephesus, and
in conjunction with other Greek cities of Asia, Julius Caesar was
spoken of as “the God made manifest, offspring of Ares and Aphrodite,
and common savior of human life.”
also know that the formula for an oath of allegiance to Rome always
contains, “by Caesar, god of gods.”
was given the title of “god of god” and his birthday was called
the birthday “of the god.”
at least one instance, during the time of St. Paul, Nero is actually
called, “the good god.” So important was this term to the Roman
emperor that when Emperor Vespasian reclined on his deathbed he
quipped, “Dear me! I must be turning into a god.”
is of interest to note that even the title Caesar has within it
the word “god.” The ancient Roman historian, Suetonius,
informs us that “aesar” is “god” in some ancient languages; we should
also remember that “aesir” in mythology means the Norse gods.
with all his ruthless brutality, Alexander the Great was officially
called “the son of god” and he styled himself as “King of Kings.”
the king became the point of communion between the common man and
the gods then all that was needed for the king to remain in power
was for the clergy and hierarchy of the state to remove or modify
those gods considered offensive to the will of the king and his
masses were thus kept in line because the rulers compelled the people,
by fear, to obey the law of the land. This law, then, was received
by the king directly from the ruling god (or so it was said). As
far back as we go in ancient mythology and history the common denominator
is a king or priesthood who stand as the exclusive representatives
of the “lord” and “law” of the domain.
is easily understandable then that in this ancient form of rulership,
they saw themselves as the final arbiter of the laws that govern
men. John Locke identified these laws as being three: 1. the divine
law; 2. the civil law; and 3. the law of opinion or reputation.
Furthermore, Lock says of these laws: “By the relation they bear
to the first of these, men judge whether their actions are sins
or duties; by the second, whether they be criminal or innocent;
and by the third, whether they be virtues or vices.”
don’t believe the amalgamation of divine law and the civil law needs
any further elaboration other than to say that the edicts that proceeded
from the throne were by nature both divine and civil. However, what
are we to do with the law of reputation or opinion that John Locke
third group of laws is the subject of Lysander Spooner’s 1875 work
Are Not Crimes.”
as the law of opinion, Spooner argues, “are simply the errors which
a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes,
they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their
persons.” More to the point, a vice is an act that a person commits
against himself or his property.
frankly the ancient states didn’t care much about the vices of the
individual. As far as holding property, the ancient peoples had
little they could call their own. As long as their taxes were paid
(yes, the tax collector was as hated ancient world as they are now),
and the proper homage was paid to the current ruler, the state wasn’t
too concerned with what people did with what was left. After all
they served gods, and as such, they really owned nothing since everything
was subject to change on the whim of the king.
occurred among the masses of these ancient societies is exactly
what Hans-Hermann Hoppe correctly elaborates in his book, Democracy
The God That Failed.
property-rights violations take their course and grow extensive
enough, the natural tendency of humanity to build an expanding
stock of capital and durable consumer goods and to become increasingly
more farsighted and provide for ever-more distant goals may not
only come to a standstill, but may be reversed by a tendency toward
decivilization: formerly provident providers will
be turned into drunks or daydreamers, adults into children, civilized
men into barbarians, and producers into criminals.”
obvious flaws in the ancient social orders should have been predicable
because there is ample evidence that it was also well known that
those who sought to rule did not set the highest standards.
such statement comes from the fabulist Aesop (ca. 620 BC) who wrote:
“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public
office.” Another comes from, the orator and statesman, Marcus Tullius
Cicero (ca. 106 BC) who proclaimed: “A bureaucrat is the most despicable
of men, though he is needed as vultures are needed, but one hardly
admires vultures whom bureaucrats strangely resemble. I have yet
to meet a bureaucrat who was not petty, dull, almost witless, crafty
or stupid, an oppressor or a thief, a holder of little authority
in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious
dog. Who can trust such creatures?”
is an even older parable defining government from around 667 years
before the first Olympiad, (ca 1400 BC) and is found in the in Judges
9:715 of the Old Testament.
gist of this parable is the trees of an orchard are looking for
a king. As they ask each producing tree of the orchard they receive
an answer of no, followed with good reason for the refusal. It isn’t
until they ask the brambles and weeds of the orchard, the plants
that rob all the producers of the needed nutrition that one is found
that will accept the position of kingship. The acceptance of the
position has one stipulation. The brambles demand that all the producing
trees come and take shelter in the shade of the brambles.
may look and think that the absolute power of the monarchs has been
discarded by modern thinking and the civilized nature of modern
man. However, this is far from the truth.
which began as a check on this man-god power, parliamentary democracy,
has been perverted into support for the state. Whether we like it
or not the divine right of kings, with its accompanying religious
fervor, has been turned around and now stands as the divine right
of parliaments, with the demands of the parliaments being no less
than that of the kings.
we return to our original question: What is it about government
that holds man’s loyalty and allows others to rule them?
It is the antediluvian and seductive idea, perpetuated by a governmental
priesthood, that the worst in society is capable of sheltering,
protecting, and caring for all of the society. It is the pipedream
that this time, this government, in this land with this people will
establish and keep its promise to “establish Justice, insure domestic
Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general
Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our
covenant of lies presides not just as the opiate of the deluded
masses but as the creed of its fanatical religious adherents ever
since the first social weeds, of the hoary past, sought to rule
over the orchard.
Case [send him mail]
is a 30-year student of the ancient histories who agrees with the
first century stoic Epictetus on this one point: "Only the educated
© 2005 LewRockwell.com