For a while now I’ve been describing myself as a ‘business anarchist‘, in part because a sizeable aspect of my work is ‘creative destruction’ of business assumptions and the like, for the purpose of clarifying the direction in which the business really wants to go. But what is an anarchist, anyway?
The literal translation is ‘one who accepts no ruler’, but it’s not quite as simple as that. There are two radically different forms, at opposite ends of a spectrum: one insists on ‘rights’ without responsibilities – what I call ‘kiddies’ anarchy’ – the other on responsibilities alone (because there are no ‘rights’ – in essence, so-called ‘rights’ are a self-centred delusion), as typified by principle-based anarchist groupings such as the Quakers.
I suppose what makes me a natural anarchist – preferably of the latter kind – is that I don’t belong. I’ve never been able to ‘belong’ to anything: a perpetual Outsider. Which, to say the least, is not a comfortable place to be, but it seems to be who I am. Oh well.
I don’t belong to any company: I’ve never been an employee, I’ve only ever been a contractor, a consultant, or an independent business ‘owner’. I don’t belong to any specific discipline, either: I’ve not so much had a career as careered. Which means that I’m good at linking across businesses and domains and skillsets – the quintessential generalist – but it again means that I never settle anywhere.
I don’t really ‘belong’ to any place, any country. I have dual citizenship, for a start (British and Australian); I’ve now lived (vaguely inhabited?) on three separate continents; and (despite that Australian anthem “I still call Australia home” etc), I’ve never felt anywhere to be ‘home’, the place where I belong.
Same with ideas and theories. I would agree strongly with Paul Feyerabend‘s dictum that in science “the only approach which does not inhibit progress (using whichever definition one sees fit) is ‘anything goes'”. Like Isaac Newton (though I hope without quite his level of vituperative irascibility!) I’ve probably written and published more on ‘alternative realities‘ than I have on anything else: as a author and theorist, I’m almost certainly better known as a writer on dowsing and related subjects than I am on my current main field of the architecture of the whole enterprise. Busy adapting some of that material right now for mainstream archaeology: as with the idea of ‘Slow Science’ (and yes, I need to find out more about that), it seems they’re at last starting to grasp the importance of balancing the objective analysis with the subjective ‘experiencing’ – I have a joint paper on that coming up in the next issue of the archaeology journal Time & Mind, for example.
And same is true at a social level:I don’t belong to any defined group. I’ve been an occasional member of some society, or a cluster of people playing folk-music, perhaps, but that’s about it. After a fairly short time the internal politics and the narrow focus begin to pall: it’s time to move on. Again. Always moving on. (Might explain why I’m endlessly moving-on on mywould-be holidays, I guess: can’t seem to settle anywhere. Oh well.)
And it’s also true at a personal level. It’s a painful fact that I share almost nothing with my parental family other than accident of birth: again, I don’t feel I belong, and never have – I’ve wanted to, for as long as I can remember, but that feeling was never there. Not excluded, as such; just no way for the ‘in‘ of ‘included’. A quiet absence of connection, rather than its active rejection, I guess: a nothingness. Same also applies to the direct personal side: I have no family of my own, and despite variously-unsuccessful attempts over the decades, I’ve now lived alone for almost three-quarters of my adult life – and as I approach my sixties, I see less and less chance or, now, even hope, that that would change. In an all too literal sense, out of touch with the rest of the human race. Again, it’s not an active absence, an active rejection, as I know it is for some others: it’s more like a subtly-closed door, a fog which prevents any way through, leaving me always as the Outsider, watching from beyond. That so-accurate Welsh term hiraedd describes it so well – “a longing and a grieving for that which is not, has never been and shall never be”. The loneliness – an all too literal ‘aloneness’ – never really stops hurting: it does fade into the background most of the time, fortunately, but it never actually ceases to make its presence felt. Gives me a better overview than most people have, I suppose – but that’s about the only ‘advantage’ that can be said for it. Hey ho.
Anarchist by nature. It’s who I am, I guess. My apologies to all, then, for being who I am.