In a recent exploration of what it means to “strike the root” I pointed out that my battle lines are between individuals and institutions rather than the more “libertarian” framing of its struggle as the battle between the private and public sectors. My beef is not with narrowly-defined “aggression,” but with something more broadly-defined, and I’m not sure just what to call it. “Assertiveness” might be a little too broad (but only a little). My best single-word answer so far is “ascendancy.” I think much of the hobgoblinry over internal consistency, and also over narrow definitions, while useful as a tool for ferreting out illogic, can also be a tool for constructing rhetorical traps, or constructing a framework which substantially defends the status quo. I freely admit that I believe the difference between persuasion and force is more one of degree than one of kind. Maybe my sliding-scale understanding of freedom is a slippery slope, but it seems plainly obvious to me that under assumption of formal rather than substantive equality, some people are not only more equal than others, but more free than others. My own hedge against bullshit relies less on rigid definitions and more on the assumption that de facto matters matter, while de jure ones (mere formalities) do not. Equality to me is not some formalism such as equality of opportunity or equality under the law. It’s, among other things, ethological equality. It is treating others as your equal, which means behaving like a parrot and not like a primate, even when you are a primate. It means putting the most into holding your head high precisely when it is most discouraged. And perhaps hanging your head low when holding it high is least discouraged. At its best, of course, it means refusing such contests altogether, but one must confront the world as it is. Being a primate, behaving like a parrot takes real effort. This is also why I regard anarchism not as narrowly-defined anti-statism (a highly anti-egalitarian and reactionary view, in my view) or even diffuse anti-authoritarianism (although that impulse at least is authentic), but at its core, the rejection of human-nature essentialism. Between the classic conservative position that human nature is essentially vicious and the classic liberal position that we’re essentially selfish, of course liberalism is the lesser of two evils, but Evil itself is problematic. The quest for value-free science, while it was laudable in an earlier time when the main enemy to freedom was the Church, has become a source of pat excuses for social darwinism. Time to throw it out with the bathwater. That’s all for now.