The Guilds
by Paul Fenn

An accomplished adolescent, confident in its rejection of tyrants, the world has grown familiar with revolutions, and understands revolts against tyranny intuitively. But it is not yet an adult, still a child that “resists growing up,” as Britt ascertains in "Voluntary Servitude," seeking “freedom with no responsibility: infantilism; "And why do children resist growing up?" asks the author; "What advantage is there, in a world of hazards, to the child’s resistance before reality?

The advantage of a child’s resistance before reality is the assumed generosity and largesse of its parent. The child is cute when petulant, charming when arrogant. In the gestation of infancy, human vice always appears as an inverted, emergent virtue. In our childhood that parent’s generosity was given by love, culture and wealth. In adolescence, that generosity becomes oppressive because it is no longer actually needed. Generosity is a containment that Freedom will reject despite death. Infantilism is in fact an unsuccessful imitation of lost childhood. The hairy child is dissatisfied, however infantilistically, with its parenting. It wants a better parent; a parent that does not actually exist (despite the state’s heroinic efforts). Its rebellion has adolescent ennui, it is both frustrated and tired. It is the resentment of the infantile citizen that designates a hidden maturity, myopically resistant but emerging in spite of itself. This man is not, as Britt describes it, “at peace when subsumed by some higher order;”(VS, p.6) he would like to be, and resents its interruption, but it is not in his nature.

The key to "Voluntary Servitude” as a theory is its focus on the citizen’s rebellion against Freedom. Voluntary servitude as an idea focuses political discourse on the individual and subsequently on the individual learning process. I particularly admire Britt's identification of the dialectical model’s pathos, its foreshadowing of doom. It is ironic that Marx would make that ancient self-fulfilling prophetic form of Apocalypse the source of man’s redemption: redemption as reduction to the human being’s poor imitation of machines and money. For Marx, the end would be the beginning. Learning is naturally avoided, but reality (“contradiction”) converges on mankind, overcoming its resistance in the last hour. Marx was waiting for everybody to think the same thought at once (“class consciousness”) , rather than considering that everybody might think that same thought before they die, but probably not at the same time. Marx hypostatized the learning process that every individual struggles with constantly into a single group event, called “the revolution.” Britt's idea of “symmetrical modes of isolation” appeals to me in this light, though I may distort it: that his “dialectics” were tragically incoherent, containing the possibilities of success but also of failures that produce victories for and reproduce those best exemplifying that failing. This is tragic because it means that unlike the dialectic that produces “Peace, the State,” “symmetrical modes of isolation” produce errata from a teleological viewpoint. There is no telic justice other than what is. In a changing universe, lawfulness (justice) will forever remain revelatory, unwriteable, even unspeakable: a practice and not a thing. The morning after Armageddon, coffee will be had by the survivors. The END is not a state of being, nor a discreet event, but an amorphous act in the process of learning freedom.