Early Gnostics used the term “Archons” to refer to the governing servants of the Demiurge, or Creator God, that separated humanity from the transcendent God who could only be reached through gnosis, the spiritual knowledge or mature intuition of the infinite world. The essence of this infinite existence, contained in each human being, awaited its eventual liberation when the materially constructed universe was dissolved. This tangible world was thought to be deceptive, perverted through the misappropriation of creative forces by an inferior God.
Perhaps anarchists make up the modern-day equivalent of Gnostics, preferring the absence of a ruling being to one that constantly errs and is susceptible to constant power disputes. Authoritative definitions, rules, and regulations qualify the human experience so that the phenomenon of being is defined and compartmentalized, ultimately separating us each from our own social and natural contexts so that we are unable to recognize the relationships we make up within the ecology in which we are embedded, thereby unconsciously doing damage to our surroundings and ourselves in the process.
Technology provides us with such a dilemma, offering both greater efficiency as well as the potential for radical change (for better or worse). At the same time as industrial civilization has brought convenience, comfort, and prosperity for some, it is simultaneously destroying the life-systems it depends on—an unsustainable process pitting economic values of exponential growth against realities of limited resources—exemplifying the unconscious separation that underpins our collective disconnect with reality, evident in the social tendencies that mimic processes of cancer:
“Whether as metaphor or hypothesis, the proposition that humans have been acting like malignant cancer cells deserves to be taken seriously. The proposition offers a unifying interpretation of such seemingly unconnected phenomena as the destruction of ecosystems, the decay of inner cities and the globalization of Western commodity culture. It provides a valuable macrocosmic perspective on human impacts, as well as a revealing historic perspective in tracing propensities back to the earliest times.” (MacDougall, pg. 83)
Alternative worldviews reciprocating non-violent patterns can help protect against the globalization of an environmentally destructive economy. If we consider technology to be the extension of ourselves, merely points of reference as to what we seek to accomplish and the minimization of personal discomfort or effort to do so, then it is not technology that is problematic, but rather its application that is contributing to social unraveling. This unconscious separation can be recognized in the concept of a medium of exchange, where one is separated from others in a social context, using money as the great equalizer by which to incorporate, consume, and process the natural world for the accumulation of personal and material wealth.
However, the Internet is predicated on the decentralization of information, providing a new opportunity by which to orient humanity in the distribution of information and trade, with the potential to unite communities under regulations not antithetical to their own prosperity. Realizing the essential Anarchistic aspiration of self-organization might then allow for a collaborative intervention in an oppressive system by dissolving the perceived separation of humanity from its natural inclination (freedom), allowing for the subversion of malevolent states by popular and connected networks more clearly able to articulate and protect common values.
“An anarchist society consists of a voluntary association of self-reliant, self-supporting, autonomous communities. The anarchist community would consist (as it did in pre-agricultural and pre-industrial times) of a voluntary association of free and independent families, self-reliant and self-supporting but bound by kinship ties and a tradition of mutual aid.” (Abbey, pg. 26)